Week 4 – 2018 Legislative Session

By February 19, 2018Legislative Update

Yesterday we began with a very somber moment at the Capitol. The families of the 16 Utah soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedoms came to the floor of the House to be recognized. We should never forget the sacrifices made in keeping America the greatest nation on earth.



State dollars dedicated to education have grown at historic levels, since 2015. Education clearly is and has been a priority for the Utah State Legislature, so much so that in the past three years, K-12 funding has increased by more than $800 million – nearly 20 percent. In addition, the past two years, education spending accounted for the most significant portion of new money appropriated by the Utah Legislature.

This year is no exception; we will continue to prioritize education funding and aspire to do it without increasing the taxes of hard-working Utahns.

HB299 aims to dedicate approximately $700 million to public schools over the next three to four years, and do it in a way that directly and positively impacts teacher pay. This legislation would also prioritize funding for improved teacher training, metrics to ensure children meet reading standards by third grade and technology in the classroom.

As the House Co-Chair of Higher Education Appropriations I get the opportunity to work closely with the Presidents of our Universities. This is President Ruth Watkins of the University of Utah. 

Martha Hughes Cannon                                                                                                                 
On February 14, 1870, the first American woman to cast a vote in a state-wide election, Seraph Young, did so right here in Utah. Fast forward 148 years to February 14, 2018, when a concurrent resolution to have Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon represent Utah in the nation’s Capital passed the House.

“Why Martha?” you may ask. Martha Cannon was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. She obtained two medical degrees, from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in public speaking from the National School of Elocution and Oratory in Philadelphia.

In 1870, women were granted the right to vote in Utah – 50 years before the 19th Amendment granted that right nationwide – but Congress removed it in the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887.  Martha was a key player in ensuring that the right of women to vote and hold public office were included in the Utah Constitution in 1895. 

Shortly afterward, Martha ran for Utah State Senate and won against a number of candidates, including none other than her own husband. She became the first-ever female state senator in the United States in 1896, more than 20 years before most women in the country were even able to cast a vote.

Each state is represented by two historical figures in the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C., with ours being Brigham Young and Philo T. Farnsworth. SCR1 proposes to replace Farnsworth’s statue, which has been there for 32 years, with one of Martha Hughes Cannon.

2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which made voting possible for all women. As our nation commemorates women’s suffrage in 2020, Utah should stand up and celebrate its own historic and groundbreaking role in this effort.

Learn more about Martha by watching a short video here

This is my friend, Utah Supreme Court Justice John A. Pearce. He was appointed to the Court in November of 2015.

Stay Connected
The Utah House of Representatives offers access to live and previous coverage of House Floor proceedings and committee hearings from the legislative website. You can view the current session, search the archive of past sessions, track bills, read proposed legislation and more at le.utah.gov.
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Author Keith

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