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Final 2016 Legislative Summary!

The 2016 General Legislative Session is complete! Thank you so much for all of your support.  It is truly an honor to represent the great residents of District 33.  Just a few highlights from the Session:


Week 7 Highlights
 
  • The Senate approved a measure to keep the Utah State Fairpark in SLC and gave lawmakers more oversight. [Trib]
  • Juveniles who commit serious crimes will no longer qualify for life sentences without the possibility of parole. [Trib]
  • A bill was approved to create more homeless shelters in SLC. [KUTV]
  • State public education saw a greater focus on equity and increased frustration with testing during this year's legislative session. [Trib] [DNews]
  • A watered down version of a controversial non-compete bill passed. [Trib] [DNews] [KUTV]
  •  A bill aimed at fixing Utah's troubled public defender system is on its way to the governor. [Trib]
  • A proposal to put tighter regulations on payday lenders was passed. [Trib]
  • The last days of the general session were highlighted with the death penalty repeal bill, and medical marijuana bills, not being passed. [Trib] [Fox13
  • A bill for the state to study the feasibility of electronic driver licenses passed. [Trib]
  • Lawmakers announced a plan to conduct an in-depth study of the Utah Transit Authority. [Trib]
  •  A bill aimed at fixing Utah's troubled public defender system is on its way to the governor. [Trib]

Rep. Hall's 2016 Legislative Accomplishments!


More detail is given below regarding each of my bills. But here is a quick summary of some of my accomplishments this Session.
  • Campaign Finance Reform - HB83 – Campaign Finance Disclosures – Requires candidates to file a campaign finance disclosure before a primary election. Not previously required.
  • Assist in our Fight Against Child Pornography - HB155 – Reporting of Child Pornography – Requires computer technicians to report child pornography to law enforcement if they happen to encounter it in the course and scope of their employment.  Will help tremendously with our fight to combat the horrendous crimes of manufacturing and distribution of child pornography.
  • Improve the Justice Court System - HB160 – Justice Court Judge Qualifications Amendments – Requires justice court judges in the largest counties to graduate from law school (rather than the previous minimum education requirement of just a high school diploma).
  • Improve Tools to Combat Identity Fraud - HB263 – Fraud Amendments – Closes a legal loophole that will help victims of identity fraud.
  • Protect Student Safety and Student Records- HB288 – Educational Records Protection Amendments – Will help protect minor student victim witness statements from being disclosed to the media after an investigation.
  • Repeal Unnecessary Sections of State Law - HB89 – Office of State Debt Collection Reporting Amendments - Repeals an unnecessary section of code.  We have too many laws on the books, and this was a good chance to get rid of one that was unnecessary.
  • Increase Government Transparency - SB99 (House sponsor) - Transparency for Political Subdivisions - Requires even the smallest government agencies to post their contact and financial information online.
  • Electronic Driver License Amendments - HB227 – Directs the Department of Public Safety to prepare a report, and make recommendations, concerning the feasibility of implementing an electronic driver license program (on your phone) in Utah.
  • Secure Additional Resources for Salt Lake Community College - Our State is sorely lacking in providing education for technicians and machinists. We have places for aspiring engineers to study, but we often have to look out of state to hire the needed technicians.  SLCC has identified this need and requested a building to accommodate such need.  I, as the Vice-Chair of one of the Appropriation Committees, was able to help secure the funding for this crucial need.




Rep. Hall's Legislation


I have several bills this session, here are a few:
 
State election code sets forth a minimum amount of financial disclosures in municipal elections.  If the city wants to make those requirements more stringent, they are allowed to do so. Currently, state code does NOT require a a financial disclosure statement before a primary election.  This bill would simply require such disclosure before a primary election, if there is a primary election.  This is a good bill that will increase candidate transparency in municipals elections.  
 
Currently, justice court judges need not be law school graduates.  In fact, the only education requirement is a high school diploma.  I want to change that.

Justice court judges deal with important constitutional rights every day.  They have the ability and authority to throw people in jail.  Two recent reports (done by the State and by the 6th Amendment Center) both conclude that our justice court judges need to be better trained.  Requiring them to be law school graduates would go a long way towards providing that needed education and training.  When criminal defendants and other litigants go into the justice court system, too much is at stake for non-law-trained individuals to be making the decisions.
 
  • HB155 - Reporting of Child Pornography - PASSED! - I am the chief sponsor of this bill. Passed the full House 64 - 7.  Passed the full senate with a vote of 25 - 0.  Here's the latest article: [Trib]

This bill would require computer technicians to report to law enforcement if they happen to come across child pornography in the scope of their employment.  There would be no duty to actively look for any child pornography. The law would only be triggered if they happen to see it.  There are 12 states that already have similar laws.  

I have been working with IT professionals and their lawyers to make sure there will not be undue burden on such workers.  The bill will help our efforts in fighting the horrendous crimes of manufacturing and distributing child pornography.

Here I am on the floor of the House requesting final passage of HB155.



 
There are hundreds of reports in state code required to be presented to the legislature every year.  Some are more vital than others.  Some are not really needed.  During the Interim, our Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee identified one report that should be done away with.  It's not a hugely important bill, but it deletes a section of our too-large State Code (which is always a good thing).
 
This bill was prompted by a situation from about four years ago when a teacher had an inappropriate relationship with a minor student. The student was asked by the school district to write a statement regarding the details of the abuse.  The media found out about the scandal and filed a public records request for all the investigation records, including the minor's statement.  The school district refused to give up the statement. The media then appealed the decision to the State Records Committee.  The Records Committee reversed the school district's decision and required the district to produce the victim's statement to the media.

This bill will simply clarify the law that such sensitive records cannot be accessed by the media, or anyone else that requests it, pursuant to the state public disclosure statute. Law enforcement will still be able to access such records if necessary.
 
  • HB110 - Election Law Changes - DID NOT PASS - I am the chief sponsor of this bill.   Passed the House 65 - 8. Was not voted upon in the Senate. Latest news report: [Trib]

There has been some debate over how to select state school board members.  Last year, the previous process of the Governor selecting two candidates and putting them on the general election ballot was held unconstitutional by a federal court.  So as it stands now, anyone who wants to be a state school board member will be on the ballot.  There is currently no mechanism in state code for a primary.  All this bill does is add a primary election, so there won't be more than two candidates on the general election ballot.   This bill also makes some minor revisions to what county clerks can do, administratively, with "inactive voters."

**UPDATE** This bill did not pass because the House and the Senate agreed to a different compromise regarding the selection of State School Board members.  The compromise was to hold nonpartisan elections for 2016 and partisan elections for 2018.
 
This will direct the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study regarding the possibility of allowing Utah drivers the option of having their driver license on their mobile phone.  Although some drivers will certainly prefer to keep carrying the plastic card, we as a State need to acknowledge there is a desire by many drivers to have this electronic option.  At this point, the bill only requires a study, which will educate us more regarding the possible options, and the challenges that we need to overcome if this were to become a reality.  Other states are looking into this possibility, and we can learn from their efforts as well.
 
  • HB263 - Fraud Amendments - PASSED! - I am the chief sponsor of this bill.  Passed the House 73 - 0.  Passed the Senate 24 - 0.

This is an important change requested by the Utah Attorney General's Office.  There is a plague of false identification documents throughout Utah (mostly false driver licenses and false social security cards). Right now, it is illegal to "transfer" a false identification document. However, unless law enforcement can prove that the document was actually "transferred," there can be no prosecution.  Accordingly, this bill would also make it illegal to "possess with the intent to transfer" a false identification document.  This is similar language that is found in the Controlled Substance Act.

This bill will help track down, and prosecute, those in the business of forging and distributing false identification documents (which unfortunately, disproportionately affects children).
 


This bill requires a local district or a special service district to post on the Utah Public Notice Website the contact information of each member of the district's governing body. It also removes a size and budget threshold for local government participation in the Utah Public Finance Website.


Town Hall Meetings!


I held three Town Hall meetings over the last few weeks.  THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO ATTENDED and asked great questions.  


What Now?


The regular Session is done.  There's a chance we could have a Special Session, or a veto-override Session.  But other than that, all the legislators (including me) go back to their regular lives and jobs for the rest of the year.  We do meet in "interim sessions," which happen one day a month, to discuss possible bills, to study issues, and to recommend bills to the Senate or House for consideration. If you have an issue that you would like to discuss, or you would like me to look into some topic for next year's Session, please feel free to contact me at any time.  I will still have the occasional Town-Hall meeting, and I will keep you informed on when those will be held. I will also send out email updates after each "interim session."  For those that want more frequent updates follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hcraighall or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/votecraighall

We stayed to work on bills until 12:00 midnight on March 10.  This is a photo of the Capitol at 1:30 a.m. after I left the Capitol.  It has truly been an honor to represent District 33.  Thank you for the opportunity!



Thanks for your support. Contact me anytime.

Read all previous email newsletters here: http://bit.ly/YJCYy1

Representative Craig Hall

Legislative email: chall@le.utah.gov
Personal email: hcraighall@yahoo.com
Website: www.votecraighall.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/votecraighall
Twitter: www.twitter.com/hcraighall
Cell phone: (801) 573-1774


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