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Herriman Journal

What Herriman’s state representatives are working on this legislative session

Feb 03, 2023 08:08AM ● By Justin Adams

Herriman’s elected representatives will be hard-at-work on Capitol Hill from Jan. 18 to March 3 for the annual legislative session. (Wikimedia Commons)

On the Saturday before the Utah State Legislative session kicked off, Sen. Dan McCay and Rep. Candice Pierucci met with constituents at Herriman City Hall to talk about some of the bills they’re working on this year.

McCay said one of the big issues for him this year is taxes. The state’s budget has a surplus of $3 billion, money which McCay and several others see as justification for lowering taxes.

“One of the efforts of myself and a few others is to push the income tax as low as we can. The goal is to be at 4.5%,” he said. The current state income tax rate is 4.85%.

He also said he’s looking at adding new tax credits.

“We have decreased below population-replacement levels so we’re looking at creating a tax credit that will benefit expectant mothers so they can claim the credit while they’re expecting,” he said.

McCay is also the sponsor of SB-31, the bill that would change Utah’s official flag, following a years-long process. One resident who attended the open house questioned the need for the state to change its flag. 

In response, McCay said he used to feel the same way. In fact, he was on a committee that had previously turned down the idea. But what changed his mind was attending a conference in a building that had all fifty states’ flags displayed in a large hallway. He realized that about half of all the states’ flags consist of a blue background with some kind of state seal or crest in the middle, including Utah’s previous flag. That led him to believe that maybe Utah should consider adopting a flag that would be a little more distinct.

“Good flags are simple. They’re so simple that a child could draw them. Their colors are 2-4 basic colors. They have to have memorable symbols that connect with the people. And it has to be designed well, such that you see it up on a flagpole, you can see the symbols and recognize it from a bunch of other flags,” he said.

Pierucci said that she is working on 15 bills, but highlighted three specifically.

One is a religious freedom bill that would protect students’ rights to wear religious clothing during sporting events.

“I was really surprised when the Muslim Civic League approached me over a year ago and said that several of their young women had been told that they couldn’t play volleyball or basketball with their hijab on. They were told they would have to remove it to play. More recently in Herriman, a couple of our team members on a club team who are Sikh were told they had to remove their turbans to play,” she said.  

Another of her bills would restrict China from purchasing land in Utah.

“You hear that and might wonder if that’s really a problem, but they’ve actually attempted to purchase the land that’s right next to the Tooele army area and Dugway proving ground. So this is an issue and this would just put an absolute prohibition on that,” she said.

Pierucci is also the sponsor of HB-215, a bill that has garnered a lot of attention. 

The bill would increase public school teachers’ compensation by about $6,000, but also sets aside $42 million for a scholarship program benefiting qualifying students who attend private schools or other alternative education options. 

“One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is that as a legislature we continue to pour money into education but we’re not seeing it trickle down to teacher salaries. So part of this bill is that it will increase teachers’ compensation by roughly $6,000. It also gives parents more options to customize their kids' educational experiences. A parent can apply for the Utah Fits All Scholarship program, and they can receive this scholarship money to direct towards homeschooling, private schooling, a co-op, etc,” she said.

Given that a similar “school choice” bill was passed and subsequently overturned by voters in a 2007 referendum by a 25-point margin, some critics see the bill as a way to force school vouchers through by using teacher raises as leverage.

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