Murray legislators wrap up legislative sessionMar 30, 2023 04:23PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Murray State Sen. Stephanie Pitcher rises to address the Utah State Senate. (Photo courtesy of Center for Constitutional Studies at UVU)
Murray legislators concluded the 2023 legislative session with varying degrees of success. While Sen. Stephanie Pitcher and Rep. Andrew Stoddard proposed numerous bills, veteran lawmaker Mark Wheatley sponsored one bill that did not pass.
Pitcher was the most successful of Murray legislators in getting bills to the governor’s desk. The senator sponsored 16 bills, of which 10 passed.
Pitcher sponsored several bills regarding juvenile justice. Juvenile Offender Penalty Amendment addresses the sentencing of a juvenile offender for the conviction of certain sexual offenses. Under the new legislation, courts were given broader jurisdiction over juvenile offenders brought in for sexual crimes.
In addition, Sen. Pitcher also passed SB0135 Government Transportation Cost Amendments, which will streamline transportation costs for the state. The new legislation aims to improve efficiency and reduce waste by consolidating transportation services and amending provisions related to costs ordered by a court as part of a criminal sentence.
Another bill passed was Public Notice Requirements, which aims to ensure the public is informed of government proceedings. The bill creates classifications for types of public notices where each classification requires notice to be provided in specific ways.
She sponsored the Driver License Suspension and Revocation Amendments, which changed how driver’s licenses are suspended and revoked. Under the new legislation, it provides for the shortening of the driver’s license suspension or revocation period required for certain traffic violations if an individual participates in a problem-solving court program and meets specified probationary conditions; and limits the types of offenses for which a court is authorized to shorten an individual’s driver’s license suspension or revocation period.
In his first session as a legislator, Sen. Nate Blouin, sworn in January, co-sponsored an Educator Salary Amendment.
This bill adds an appropriation adjustment for the educator salary adjustments and the Teacher Salary Supplement Program (TSSP). In addition, it modifies what constitutes an eligible teacher for the TSSP.
The Utah Teacher Salary Supplement Program (TSSP) is designed to provide additional salary support to teachers in Utah who work in high-need subjects or schools. The program was created to help address the low salaries for teachers in Utah and encourage more qualified individuals to enter the teaching profession.
Under the TSSP, eligible teachers in Utah can receive an annual salary supplement of up to $4,100. To qualify for the program, teachers must meet specific criteria, including holding a valid Utah teaching license, working full time in a high-need subject area or school, and demonstrating proficiency in the subject they teach.
One of the most active of Murray’s representatives, Stoddard, sponsored 20 pieces of legislation, of which seven moved forward for the governor’s signature.
The first of the bills, Process Server Amendments, establishes new requirements for serving legal documents in Utah. This bill allows certain special function officers to serve court documents when the use of force is authorized or when a breach of the peace is imminent or likely.
Stoddard’s Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry and Child Abuse Offender Registry Administration Amendments update Utah’s offender registry laws. This bill moves the administration of the Sex and Kidnap Registry and the Child Abuse Offender Registry from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Public Safety.
Also notable is Stoddard’s Vehicle Accident Reports Amendments. This bill requires the Department of Public Safety or the investigating peace officer’s law enforcement agency to provide an unredacted accident report to specific persons. It also provides that the unredacted accident report shall contain, among other items, the name, phone number, and address of each driver and person involved in the accident. Finally, it allows a witness of the accident to request that the witness’s address and phone number be excluded from the accident report but allows a party in a lawsuit arising from an accident to discover the witness’s address and phone number.
Rep. Gay Lynn Bennion also scored a win by passing a Driver’s License bill. The bill allows the Driver License Division to begin administering specific examinations in languages other than English. It also allows an individual to take certain driver’s license examinations in the individual’s preferred language, subject to availability.
Her second passed bill, School Energy and Water Reductions spells out regulations to reduce the environmental impact of Utah’s schools by incentivizing energy and water conservation efforts.
Utah’s longest-serving female representative, Carol Spackman Moss, passed a duo of legislation to enhance the Utah International Baccalaureate Program. Her University Recognition for International Baccalaureate Achievement bill amends the Utah Board of Higher Education’s requirement for acceptance of prior learning. In addition, it requires Utah institutions to award credit for International Baccalaureate programs.
Her second bill, Suicide Prevention in Correctional Facilities, aims to improve mental health services for incarcerated individuals in Utah. Her bill requires the Department of Public Safety to administer the Suicide Deterrence Grant Program to provide suicide barriers in county jails.
Rep. Wheatley sponsored one bill to create a Kidney Health Task Force. Wheatley could not push his only bill forward before the end of the session. He did sign on as a co-sponsor to designate the brine shrimp as the state crustacean.
A complete listing of all Utah State legislation can be found at le.utah.gov.