TRANSPARENCY AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
My heart goes out to all those who have been the victims of mistreatment, harassment, and/or violence because of bias. We all have biases–that doesn’t make us bad, it just makes us human. I am trying to overcome my own biases by opening my mind and heart and by being willing to listen and learn from others whose experiences differ from my own.
During the last legislative session, I sponsored a transparency bill that was passed and signed by the governor that will help our criminal justice system discover where and how bias affects prosecution practices. I worked for over a year with prosecutors, county and district attorneys, sheriffs, the courts, and others to come up with a bill that I had no idea would be so timely–but that I knew was very important. It requires jails, prosecutors, and the courts to gather a variety of data, including race, ethnicity, gender, and some economic data, so that it can be analyzed to see if there are differences in how various groups are treated and prosecuted. This law also requires prosecution agencies to publish their policies on prosecution practices.
I looked at the Daily Herald yesterday and saw me and my bill referred to on a front page article about the attorney general candidates and how they would implement the requirements of HB 288. Here is a link to that.
SECURITY OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS IN UTAH COUNTY
I have received some questions about how safe mail-in ballots are. I attended an online conference that addressed this question earlier this week, and I have also asked our County Clerk, Amelia Powers Gardner, and Deputy Clerk, Josh Daniels, about the validity of our elections process. As County Clerk, Ms. Gardner’s job is to make sure that every registered voter has the opportunity to vote and that each vote is counted correctly. After listening to the conference and speaking to Ms. Powers, I feel confident that our mail-in election is going to be very carefully monitored and the results will be accurate.
Ms. Powers invited me and anyone who has reservations or curiosity about the process to come in during the next few weeks and observe it in action. I am going to take her up on this.
I have been asked several questions about the information and signature on the outside of the envelope. You do not have to put anything but your signature on the envelope, but you can add your phone number and/or email. These last two things will aid in contacting you if your signature does not match what is on file. if you are uncomfortable putting this info into the mail, you can drop off your ballot at any of these drop boxes that are open 24/7 until June 30th at 8:00 pm. That is what I do. It also saves the county on postage. They will also have drive through balloting on election day. For more info, click HERE.
Which leads to the next question: What if your signature has changed and you don’t remember which signature you should sign the ballot with? The county has several signatures on file and the machine will try to match with all of them. If there is no match, the clerk’s office will contact you and let you know your ballot did not go through and will give you another way to vote. You can also go to the clerk’s office and register the signature you have now so that it will match to your ballot signature.
You can track your ballot HERE to make sure your vote is counted.
SPECIAL SESSION NEXT WEEK
There will be a special session called for the end of next week. I am not sure whether it will be called by legislative leadership or Governor Herbert. Whoever calls the session gets to set the agenda, and I am sure there is some negotiating and collaborating to get that figured out. We will get budget numbers and projections early next week and will vote on a new budget based on those numbers. To read a bit about this, click HERE.
I hope we use this opportunity to look at the big picture, assess our priorities, and make sure we are allocating money for the greatest good and cost savings in the long run. I have long been an advocate for local control and less government regulations. One of the ways we can do this in education is to put more education funds into the weighted pupil unit (WPU). Here is an op-ed that explains this.
ENERGY WORKFORCE SCHOLARSHIP FOR STEM FIELDS
The Governor’s Office of Energy Development has partnered with Chevron creating the Energy Workforce Scholarship. This scholarship offers $4,000 for students looking to study a STEM field occupation at a Utah based University or College and $2,000 for students registering to study a STEM field occupation at a Technical School.
Students will need to
- Complete the energy questionnaire
- Provide a one-page cover letter
- Submit application to [email protected]
The deadline for students to apply is June 15th, 2020.
Students can find more information and apply here.