Utah Citizenship And A Remarkable Legislative Process
Feb 13, 2013 9:00 AM
His proposal establishes a law allowing the University of Utah’s School of Medicine to expand its class size from 82 to 122 over 3 years, with an ongoing allocation of $10m per year from the state.
The bill was among the first to be heard in committee. During the presentation, the members of the committee asked Senator Valentine, President Pershing and me a series of questions. Their comments indicated a strong support for the proposal and a concern for the level of resources available to education in general. Moreover, the Committee expressed the desire that the health of our state should be addressed through this initiative.
Committee members were thoughtful, and it was clear to me that they cared.
For the sake of perspective, when my family and I lived in New York City, New York State’s capital, Albany seemed very far away. For the most part, our participation in civic and governmental issues was limited to paying our taxes and expecting our streets to be plowed after a snowstorm. Most of us thought of ourselves as citizens of “the city,” rather than citizens of the state. In “the city,” we rarely interacted with our legislators, and visits from our Senators were, understandably, unheard of—if they visited our academic medical center, they would have to visit a dozen others across the state, so as not to play favorites.
Here in Salt Lake City, our civic involvement is very different. Our legislators, for the most part, have full-time jobs outside of government. Additionally, they are committed to being good stewards of the state and to maintaining our quality of life here. They know our concerns because they share our concerns. They are “one of us.” Because our community is so interwoven and connected, many of us even know our legislators well. This environment allows for community groups—whose voices may be heard raising concerns and weighing in on important issues—to be both active and engaged.
At the Senate Education Committee hearing, I experienced this process first hand. I left the hearing deeply impressed by the serious commitment of the legislature to do the common good and to keep us all well. Bravo.
Senate Bill 42 has passed in the Senate, on a vote of 28 to zero with one “other” and has since moved on to the House of Representatives. To watch the progress of this great endeavor, click here.