The 2023 legislative session kicks off today and there is a lot on the table for the future of environmental policy.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about the session, including what goes down on the Hill, bills we’re working on and monitoring, and how you can get involved.
What is the legislative session and how does it work?
The legislative session, which runs for 45 working days from Jan. 17 to March 3, is the time when bills are discussed and eventually voted on to decide if they will become law.
The Utah Legislature is made up of 75 representatives and 29 senators for a total of 104 legislators. Each legislator serves on a number of committees such as the Education Committee, Transportation Committee, or Judiciary Committee.
Generally speaking, each bill is assigned to a committee that it’s most closely related to. Once a bill reaches its committee, groups such as O₂ Utah, citizens like you, and stakeholders can testify to the committee on behalf of a bill.
It is then the committee’s job to vote on the bill. If it passes, it moves onto the floor of the House or Senate where it is voted on again. If it passes once more, it flips to the other floor for a final vote.
Finally, a bill that has passed in its committee and on both floors will reach the governor’s office where it will either be signed into law or vetoed.
Which bills are O₂ Utah working on and keeping an eye on?
Most notably, we have a bill! Our landmark legislation, Prosperity 2030, will be introduced in its first phase as the Emission Reduction Amendments.
As we’re sure you know by now, Prosperity aims to cut emissions by 50% along the Wasatch Front by 2030. The first phase of the bill will help accomplish that goal by focusing on transportation solutions, building standards, and some other sources of pollution.
There are a number of bills (over 100!) that will be introduced that relate to our air quality. O₂ Utah will be tracking and advocating for legislation that protects our public lands, restores water to the Great Salt Lake, safeguards voting rights, and addresses transportation needs and industrial emission sources. Additionally, we will be working to ensure the thoughtful allocation of state funds to address emissions across the Wasatch Front.
What else will O₂ Utah be focused on during the session?
Represented by our Policy Director, Eliza Cowie, and citizen lobbyists, we will be at the Capitol for the entirety of the 45-day legislative session advocating for the interests of those concerned with our continued air quality issue.
On the Hill, we will meet with, educate, and engage with legislators, including direct lobbying efforts and testifying in committee hearings. Unlike congressmen, legislators do not have full-time staff members so it is up to us to educate and communicate on issues important to voters.
Our team works to support legislators interested in advocating for air quality issues and continues to engage those who do not have the information to make informed decisions.
What can you do?
Today marks the start of Utah’s 65th Legislature. Each legislator comes from a different background with different political views. The one thing they all have in common? They represent YOU!
While it is the legislator’s responsibility to vote based on the needs and concerns of those they represent, it is your responsibility to make those concerns known. The best way to have your voice heard is to contact your representative and attend Citizen Lobby Days.
Citizen Lobby Days is your chance to show up at the Capitol and have meaningful facetime with your legislator.
We’ll be holding our first Citizen Lobby Day on Thursday, January 26 from 12-4 p.m. Click here to RSVP and stay tuned for more lobbying opportunities.
We’ll meet at the Capitol, take you on a quick tour, help you schedule a meeting with your legislator, and make sure you are fully prepared to speak with them about air quality and environmental issues.
You do not need all of the scientific answers or know the inner workings of government. Anyone who is passionate about breathing clean air can make a difference just by showing up!
Finally, you can always donate to O₂ Utah. Your support goes directly to our time on the Hill during the legislative session. We are working hard to pass meaningful policy to ensure the health and prosperity of all Utahns. Thank you for your support!
Eli is reading...
Climb to Conquer by Peter Shelton. It’s a captivating story of the 10th Mountain Division, the first U.S. troops to train specifically on snow and rock, where World War II history and the future of American skiing and outdoor recreation collide.
Greg is walking in snow...
Snowshoeing! We get a lot of skiing purists in the winter. We all know them. But snowshoeing is the bomb and offers access to the snowy backcountry through the long grey winter months. Strap 'em on and hit the trail!
David is listening...
The Ezra Klein Show from December 6, 2022. Political scientists Jake Grumbach and Ezra Klein discuss the growing trend of policy in states and how national politics dominate attention while state legislatures evade it. This discussion highlights so much of what O₂ Utah encounters on a daily basis. And we’re obligated to say: available anywhere you get your podcasts.
Bronti is drinking...
Liquorice tea — nice little treat after a day outside in the cold. Liquorice can be polarizing, but give it a try and let me know what you think.
Eliza is reading...
Utah Avalanche Center's email reports. With lots of snow continuing to dump into our atmosphere, we want to make sure you can still safely get outside, and understanding the avalanche conditions and dangers in your area is a great place to start! We appreciate the work our fellow nonprofits do to keep everyone safe and this daily email is an easy way to start your day!
Travis is watching...
White Lotus Seasons 1 & 2 on HBO Max: I love a good murder mystery. It’s funny, dramatic, cringy, and best of all, features Aubrey Plaza.