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Politics & Government

The Utah Legislative Session Is Unusual This Year: Here’s How To Make Your Voice Heard

A photo of the interior of the Capitol building.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Because of the pandemic, Utahns can now participate in Legislative committee meetings virtually.

The pandemic and worries over violent protest have dramatically changed the setup of Utah lawmakers’ annual 45-day General Session. Lawmakers are being tested regularly for COVID-19; plexiglass dividers have been installed between desks on the House floor and masks are required throughout the Capitol.

Because of security concerns, the building is currently closed to the public, but journalists with media credentials are allowed. While this will likely change, many people may still choose not to come to the Capitol because of COVID-19. Here’s how you can participate from afar.

Listen In

If you just want to listen in as lawmakers debate, change and vote on bills — you can stream committee meetings and debates on the House or Senate floor.

  1. To watch a committee hearing, click the Calendar tab on the Legislature’s website home page.
A photo of a website.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
Here's where to find the Calendar tab on the Legislature's website.

2. Select the committee meeting you want to watch, like “Business, Economic Development and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee” or “Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee.”

A photo of the Legislative calendar.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
Here's where to find the web pages for different Legislative committees.

3. Select the date of the meeting you want to watch from the left side of the committee’s web page. Once it’s in progress, click “Live Audio/Video.

A photo of an example of finding livestreams for committee meetings.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
Here's where to find the the video livestream of a committee meeting.

Speaking During a Committee Meeting

  1. Legislative staff recommend signing up to provide public comment before the meeting. Once you’re on the committee web page and have clicked on the meeting that you want to participate in (see above), click “Public Comment.”
A screenshoot of an example where to sign up to give a public comment.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
Here's where to sign up to give public comment.

Fill out the form on the “Public Comment” page with your name, email address and which items on the agenda you want to comment on. Your name and email can be seen by the members of the committee.

An example of what the public comment sign up form looks like.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
This is what the public comment sign up form looks like.

2. Whether you have signed up ahead of time or not, you can join a Zoom call to provide public comment during the meeting. Thirty minutes before the meeting starts, you can click an option that says “Participate in Virtual Meeting” on the meeting’s web page. You can log on any time during the meeting.

A photo of  where to find the link to join a committee meeting Zoom call.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
Here's where to find the link to join a committee meeting Zoom call.

3. Fill out the Zoom registration form and click “Join Webinar in Progress.”

A photo of the registration form to join the virtual committee meeting.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
This is what the registration form to join the virtual committee meeting looks like.

4. When the chair of the committee asks for public comment on the agenda item you want to talk about, click the “raise hand” button on Zoom at the bottom of the screen. If the chair calls on you, legislative staff will unmute your microphone and you can talk. The chair will also usually give all the public commenters a time limit to speak.

Note: Signing up ahead of time or joining the meeting’s Zoom call does not guarantee that you can speak. The chair of the committee can decide who speaks and how long you have to speak.

Email Your Representative or Senator

Utahns can also email their representatives in the state Legislature directly to weigh in on bills or the budget.

  1. If you don’t know who your representatives are, click the “My Legislators” tab on the Utah Legislature’s home page.
A photo of where to find the My Legislators tab on the Legislature's website.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
Here's where to find the My Legislators tab on the Legislature's website.

2. Click on the lawmakers’ photos, and you’ll be taken to their individual web pages, which have their contact information on them.

A photo of where to find who your representatives are on the Legislative website.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
When you type in your address, the Legislative website tells you who your representatives are.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, recommends that if you email your representative or senator, make sure to let them know you’re their constituent.

Bill Tracking

If there is a bill you’re interested in, you can sign up for alerts on that bill. You’ll get an email each time the bill is amended, gets assigned to a committee or is voted on.

Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, also recommends this.

  1. Create an account on the Legislature’s website.

2. On the bill’s webpage, click the “Track This” on the right side of the screen.

A photo that illustrates how you can track a bill.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
Click "Track this" to track a bill.

3. Click on your email address in the top right corner of the web page, and it will take you to a list of all the bills you are tracking.

4. If you want to receive email updates, make sure that the mail icon next to the bill does not have a red line through it.

A photo that illustrates how you can receive email updates every time there is a change to a bill you're tracking.
Screenshot of le.utah.gov
You can receive email updates every time there is a change to a bill you're tracking.

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