Utah First

Last week my staff made a mobile office visit to Hooper City and enjoyed the opportunity to meet with individuals in the area. In addition to the mobile office visit, my staff also met with Mayor Korry Green and attended a special event at Hooper Elementary. I would like to thank all those who braved the spring snow to come out and visit with my staff.
Norm Bangerter served as Utah’s 13th Governor from 1985 to 1993. He was truly an extraordinary man and an exceptional leader. He passed away this past Tuesday, April 14, at the age of 82. He loved Utah, and he loved this great Nation.
Last week I had the opportunity to hold town hall meetings in West Valley City and Kaysville, Utah. I appreciated the many hundreds of people who took time out of their evenings to visit with me and discuss important issues facing our country. Despite the snow flurries, technical difficulties, and the landing of Air Force One and visit by the President of the United States, the town halls were well attended and a great success.

The Wall That Heals

Mar 20 2015

Last Friday, members of my St. George staff visited The Wall That Heals during its four-day stop in St. George. Organized and operated by the Vietnam Veterans MemorialFund, The Wall That Heals is a traveling museum that helps bring closure and healing to the many millions of people who have been impacted by the Vietnam War.
Earlier this week I delivered my annual report to the Utah House of Representatives and the Utah State Senate. During every year of my Senate service, I have taken the opportunity to visit with the fine men and women of these legislative bodies that make Utah one of the best-managed states in the nation.

Today the Senate voted on an amendment I proposed to the bill to authorize the Keystone Pipeline, which would have limited the amount of fees attorneys can collect when suing the federal government under the Endangered Species Act.

According the Department of Justice, more than 500 ESA-related lawsuits were filed or opened against the federal government since 2009. As a result, federal agencies have to spend their time, energy, and taxpayer-funded resources fighting lawsuits instead of protecting endangered species.

While the amendment received 54 Republican votes, it didn't receive the 60 votes it needed to pass.

There is a lot of work to do to reform the implementation of the Endangered Species Act. This amendment is just one of many reforms that I am developing with my colleagues in the House and the Senate. Hopefully, our future efforts will succeed in providing relief for Americans who have seen their property rights undermined and their economic opportunities diminished by policies that ineffectively protect the environment and disproportionately benefit well-funded activist groups and lawyers.

Today I spoke, via Skype, with a group of students from Independence High School of Provo, Utah, and their U.S. Government teacher, Mr. David Miller. After spending a few minutes telling the students about the legislative process in the U.S. Senate and explaining my constitutional duties as an elected representative, we had an exciting conversation about current events and policy hot topics that were of interest to the class.

I was honored that members of my staff could attend the First Annual Utah Fallen Heroes Family Day at Neptune Park in Saratoga Springs.  This event was organized by The Patriot Guard Riders of Utah, Blue Star Mothers, Survivor Outreach Service Support, and the City of Saratoga Springs.  The event was held to honor and show gratitude to the families of our military and first responders who gave their lives in service to our country and communities.

fallen heroes

Today I attended a conference hosted by the National Association of Counties to discuss the importance and future of Payment in Lieu of Taxes funding.  I appreciated the opportunity to speak to this group, so I could share my thoughts on how we can ensure that a dispropotionate share of the costs and burdens of federal land ownership aren't concentrated in counties with high levels of federal land.

pilt fliers

Materials from the conference that highlight the problematic relationship bewteen PILT and federal lands

In my remarks to this group I identified several areas that we need to focus on as we work together to improve the PILT program and make it more reliable for the counties that rely on the federal government to keep its promise to offset the costs associated with high concentrations of federal land.

I emphasized that PILT is not an entitlement program. It is an affirmative obligation of the federal government. It must not be legislatively partnered with subsidies or other entitlements, because, as we have seen, PILT is being used as a politcal football.  I will continue to work toward funding PILT as either a standalone bill or any other vehicle where Congress can focus on fully funding PILT with a long term bill that provides certainty to counties.

pilt speech

I also pointed out that the most important thing we need to focus on in improving the PILT program is to educate those who come from states with little federal land about the nature of this program.  Every day I work to educate my colleagues about the unique challenges faced by states with high levels of public land.  However, this education effort needs to be promoted by everyone who is concerned with the future of PILT.  I am hopeful that those who attended this conference today will join me in this effort.

 

Today members of staff from my office were invited to attend a ceremony in the Utah State Capitol Building to honor 181 of the 17,000 Utahns who fought in the Korean War.  They were presented with the South Korea Ambassador for Peace Medal.

south korea ambassador for peace medal

south korea honors utah veterans