December 8, 2023
Representative Andrew Stoddard on A.G. Sean Reyes’ Decision to Not Seek Re-election
Elected officials bear the responsibility of upholding the highest ethical standards and fostering an environment of accountability and integrity. A.G. Sean Reyes’ questionable actions during his tenure in public office do not reflect the oath of office. His choice to not seek re-election is a minimal acknowledgment of his wrongdoings.
The Utah House Democratic Caucus has consistently held the view that the current Attorney General has not aligned with the mission and priorities of his office. In 2021, I sponsored H.R. 4 House Rules Resolution - Forming Special Investigative Committee to investigate allegations of misconduct against the attorney general. While not supported by my colleagues across the aisle at the time, there is now a commitment to investigating transgressions through a legislative audit.
These developments underscore the pressing need for greater accountability from the head of the Office of the Attorney General. Moving forward, it is crucial to emphasize the significance of transparency, integrity, and public trust in our elected officials.”
November 21, 2023
Representative Sahara Hayes Addresses the Transphobic Posters on the University of Utah’s Campus
In light of the recent appearance of anti-transgender posters at the University of Utah I want to acknowledge the value of free speech while emphasizing the importance of fostering an inclusive and respectful environment for all students. I always support the sharing of ideas and disagreeing constructively, but public campuses should not be used as a platform to belittle and demean the existence of others. Having the right to free speech does not justify using it to promote hatred against others.
Every student has the right to feel safe and have their identity respected in their schools. Establishing a learning environment that embraces diversity and promotes understanding is vital for the well-being and success of all students. We should strive for a campus community where differing opinions can coexist without undermining the fundamental respect owed to each individual.
Putting up posters designed to incite extreme feelings and disparage transgender students is not the answer. Open dialogue that promotes understanding and empathy and recognizes our differences makes us stronger as a community; demeaning propaganda drives us further apart. If you are a student that was impacted by this messaging, please know that I stand with you. Let us work together to uphold the values of respect, inclusion, and the assurance that every student feels secure in expressing their identity and being authentically themselves on their campus.
November 15, 2023
Three Members of the Utah House Democrats Vote Against H.R. 901 House Resolution Supporting the State of Israel
Today we were asked to vote on H.R. 901 House Resolution Supporting the State of Israel. We want to be clear, we condemn Hamas’ attack on Israel, but the resolution falls short by not acknowledging the significant impact the conflict has had on innocent Palestinian lives. With over 10,000 Palestinian lives lost, including 4,000 children lost in reprisals against Hamas and over 1.5 million people displaced in Gaza, we have trouble supporting a resolution that doesn’t explicitly recognize the plight of Palestinians.
Recognizing the conflict in Israel and Palestine as a complex and longstanding issue with political, historical, and cultural dimensions, we acknowledge the immense human suffering, displacement, and loss of life on both sides. Our hearts go out to the families anxiously awaiting news about their loved ones. We believe in the fundamental right of everyone to live in safety, peace, and have a secure home. The alarming displacement of innocent people and children, coupled with a lack of basic resources is a grave concern. Our hope and prayer remain for peace, emphasizing human rights above all, even in times of conflict.
We are also troubled by the fact that the resolution does not explicitly condemn what our Muslim and Jewish friends and neighbors in our community are facing, as a result of the conflict in the Middle East. There is a concerning rise in antisemitism and islamophobia in Utah. We strongly denounce the hate and intolerance within our community. The freedom to practice one’s religion is a fundamental First Amendment right, and community members should be able to do so without the fear of bomb threats or being unjustly labeled as terrorists. As we engage in discussions about this conflict, the safety of our neighbors must be our foremost priority.
We are committed to actively supporting and amplifying the voices of communities in our state affected by the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Our support extends to both the Jewish and Muslim communities, and we stand in solidarity with them.
Angela Romero, Utah House Minority Leader; Sandra Hollins, Utah House Minority Assistant Whip; Ashlee Matthews, Utah House of Representatives
October 9, 2023
Utah House Democrats Affirm Solidarity with Jewish Community
The Utah House Democrats express unwavering support of our Jewish community here in Utah, in Israel and across the globe. We stand against the unspeakable horrors of antisemitism and terrorism that continue to devastate families and communities.
We denounce the recent antisemitic bomb threats and placement of hate symbols in Utah, and any acts of terror and intimidation. Utah prides itself on being founded on the tenets of the free practice of religion. We renounce all actions that seek to undermine the safety and well-being of our Jewish family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in the face of such hateful acts.
August 10, 2023
Utah House Democrats Honor the First Anniversary of the PACT Act Alongside President Biden
The Utah House Democratic Caucus is filled with great excitement as President Biden visits our beautiful state during his trip to the western United States. This momentous occasion signifies the importance of Utah on the national stage. As proud Utah Democrats, the caucus celebrates his visit and emphasizes the important work the Biden-Harris Administration has accomplished. The administration’s emphasis on the expansion of jobs, infrastructure, clean energy, environmental justice, and veteran services exemplifies the President’s promise to be a leader for all Americans.
Today, the caucus is honored to recognize the one-year anniversary of the PACT Act alongside the President at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The law, Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, is the largest expansion of benefits and services to veterans in decades. Representative Rosemary Lesser, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, emphasizes how important the Act is to military veterans who have been harmed by exposure to toxic substances while serving their country. “It is crucial we take care of our veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting our nation. The PACT Act is a significant step forward in the nation’s commitment to supporting our veterans.” The caucus is grateful for the time and attention given to an important piece of bipartisan legislation and looks forward to the positive outcomes that will undoubtedly result from this visit.
July 25, 2023
Utah’s House and Senate Democrats Endorse Labor Rights and Stand in Support of the UPS Teamsters
“We support the 340,000 UPS Teamsters nationwide, practicing their right to collectively bargain for fair wages, safe working conditions, affordable health care, and dignified retirement. Each UPS employee, regardless of their part-time or full-time status, deserves to be compensated fairly for their work. In Utah alone, there are 2,600 Teamsters whose wages and benefits have not kept up with inflation. We support their reasonable demands for fair compensation and benefits, and we are inspired by their part in reigniting the labor movement. Their actions will help set and raise standards for workers nationwide, encouraging growth and essential benefits for living wage jobs. The UPS Teamsters are demonstrating the power of labor and the importance of the right for workers to unionize. We applaud the tentative agreement reached today to ensure the well-being and job satisfaction of workers is championed—the purposeful determination of the Teamsters and the UPS community will help create a more equitable future for all.”
July 23, 2023
Utah House Democrats Deeply Concerned and Disappointed by Governor DeSantis’s Comments on Academic Curriculum During Utah Visit
The Utah House Democrats express deep concern and disappointment in comments made in the Utah State Capitol, the People’s House, by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. His enabling of an academic curriculum that ignores historical truths is damaging to the education system and a step backward in the civil rights movement. Manufacturing any perception of benefit from the travesty of our nation’s dark history of slavery does nothing more than make a mockery of any progress toward a kinder, more equitable America.
We are alarmed by the failure of Governor DeSantis’s Utah supporters to publicly decry these comments. Racist rhetoric that seeks to erase the unsavory parts of our history has no place in our state’s dialogue. We must insist better from our state leaders. If we do not, we fail to do better for our state, and fail everyone in our communities who deserve to live in a world free from racism and bigotry.
Work is still needed in our state and nation to overcome the lasting traces of racism. We call on our legislative colleagues to recognize the importance of providing opportunities to learn from past atrocities and build a better, more inclusive future for every person. It is imperative the State of Utah continues to teach the whole truth of American history and not hide our dark past. As public officials we must not shy away from our history, but actively work to eradicate injustices in order to create a better future for all Utahns.
July 18, 2023
Utah House and Senate Minority Leaders Call on Elected Officials to Engage Thoughtfully and Constructively Online
We are deeply troubled by repeated racially-charged actions by elected officials on social media platforms, and we will not be silent while communities of color endure attacks online by our colleagues. We can agree to disagree on policy and still be respectful while protecting one’s freedom of speech. Elected officials represent ALL people—our words and actions have consequences and can especially impact underrepresented communities who are already feeling targeted and fearful in the current political climate. As elected officials, our platforms should reinforce thoughtful conversations that are constructive and seek to advance responsive solutions to our most pressing problems. Conversations, including online dialogues, should encourage understanding and express humanity at a time when it is all too easy to voice divisive, inaccurate, and harmful language. Elected officials—regardless of political affiliation—must hold each other accountable when they say disparaging things against marginalized communities. We’ve already started to facilitate these difficult conversations with our colleagues and are dedicated to holding each other accountable.
July 1, 2023
Representative Sahara Hayes on SCOTUS’s LGBTQ+ Rights Decision
Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court on LGBTQ+ discrimination is an alarming and hateful step backwards. The right to not be discriminated against is something that we have fought fiercely for, and this decision peels away that protection. A person’s beliefs are deeply personal and deserving of respect; however, under no circumstances should they be used as justification for discrimination against a protected class of people.
This decision is frustrating and painful. If you are angry, uncertain, or scared, you are not alone. I wish we did not live in a world where our rights and dignity were not continuously put under the microscope of public debate. Today, we grieve. Tomorrow, we continue the fight.
July 1, 2023
Representative Sandra Hollins on SCOTUS’s Student Loan
Today’s Supreme Court decision to block student loan forgiveness is disappointing and out of touch with the realities of everyday Americans who are unable to make ends meet and are burdened with the overwhelming weight of student loan debt. This ruling is another disadvantage to Americans who saw education as an opportunity to have a successful and brighter future. Student loan cancellation would have helped relieve the financial burden higher education placed on 43 million Americans, predominantly women and people of color. Economic status should not limit educational pursuits, and going to college should not put Americans in debt. I applaud the three justices who dissented from the opinion and support the Biden Administration’s dedication to tackling education-related debt. Student loan forgiveness programs represent a crucial step toward creating a fairer and more inclusive society, where the pursuit of education and career aspirations is not hindered by overwhelming amounts of debt. By supporting such programs, we can empower individuals, boost the economy, and foster a brighter future for generations to come.
July 1, 2023
Minority Leader Angela Romero on SCOTUS’s Affirmative Action Decision
The conservative majority of the Supreme Court of the United States has taken another step back from progress by ending a policy practice that has been in place for 50 years. Their decision to eliminate race-conscious policies from college admission decisions limits the opportunity to promote and emphasize diversity in the higher education system. Affirmative action has helped students of color, including myself and other members of the Utah House Minority Caucus, access educational opportunities that would not have been possible in the past without this policy. Not because of a lack of talent or ability, but as a result of decades of systemic barriers to education.
We don’t live in a color-blind society. Structural and institutional racism still hinders underrecognized students from accessing higher education. Our work and dedication toward racial justice and equity will continue regardless of the challenges we encounter.
The Utah House Democrats remain frustrated and disappointed that the Utah House Majority continues to bring forward bills that hold good policies hostage. Representative Rosemary Lesser (D-10) has been a vocal champion on the removal of the sales tax on food. While the House Democrats remain in favor of removing the sales tax on food, H.B. 101 cannot be supported in good faith. By tying the removal of the food tax to removing the earmark on education funding, the Majority continues to hold public education hostage. These items should be considered separately on the merits of their own policy and Representative Rosemary Lesser proposed an amendment to separate the two issues, which was voted down. We want to make it very clear, Utah House Democrats support the removal of the sales tax on food. We do not support the efforts to remove the earmark on education funding. We call on our legislative colleagues to debate these issues on their own merits and seek immediate solutions to help Utah families who are struggling to put food on the table.
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House Democrats express deep disappointment and frustration following the passage of HB 467. This bill, which purports to be "pro-life," in fact, is not.
These health centers are critical providers of reproductive health care for Utahns. They serve an important role in our communities, offering safe, accessible, and affordable services to those who need them. Prohibiting the re-licensing of abortion clinics when their current license expires and requiring people to seek all abortion care at Utah’s hospitals–the most expensive place to receive care–will not only limit access to abortion but also other types of reproductive health care.
This bill operates with the assumption that most abortion care will be banned in the state of Utah. That decision is currently in the hands of the courts, and HB 467 is the second legislative attempt this year, along with HJR2, to undermine the role and authority of the judiciary in our state
Instead of working to make health care in Utah more accessible, affordable, and designed around patients’ needs, the majority party promotes bills like HB 467 that take away the rights and choices of all Utahns.
SALT LAKE CITY – Our children are the cornerstone and future of our state and their education should be one of our foremost priorities. Over 90% of Utah's school-age children attend public schools. H.B.215 puts taxpayer dollars that could be meaningfully invested into our public schools into exclusive and unregulated private schools without any accountability. As Utah House Democrats, we are passionate about ensuring our incredible public school teachers have their pay increased. Teacher pay should not be tied to the passage of a school voucher program. Our teachers and our children deserve better.
SALT LAKE CITY – We are deeply saddened to see the passing of HJR 02. It is disappointing for the legislature to interrupt ongoing legal action. This is yet another power grab to curb the rights of Utahns and undermine the courts. We are upset to see anti-abortion legislators be so dedicated to denying people access to life saving medical care.
As House Democrats we put trust in the judicial system, we know that we serve no purpose in curtailing their role and rights. We believe that our three branches of government serve to balance one another to prevent the concentration of unchecked power.
SALT LAKE CITY – We would like to express our sincerest congratulations to Senator-Elect Karen Kwan. The House Minority caucus is sad to see the departure of Senator-Elect Kwan. We thank her for her years of dedicated service in the House, chiefly her commitment to education, working families, and economic development. We look forward to future collaboration.