Florida House of Representatives passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

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“Each baby has a proper to talk actually about their lives, a proper to have entry to a historical past that’s sincere and contains them, and a proper to library books that replicate and embrace who they’re,” mentioned Nadine Smith, a queer mom and govt director of the Equality Florida non-profit.

Bill banning ‘pornographic or indecent’ books at Utah schools passes committee

One Republican lawmaker stated he is aware of of dozens of books obtainable in public college libraries throughout Utah that comprise passages about intercourse that will “shock the conscience.”

One other added that no one desires that type of express content material in faculties “the place above wherever else, it doesn’t belong.” A 3rd agreed, saying “we should draw the road” on what college students can entry as a result of not setting limits ensures they’ll stumble throughout one thing inappropriate.

With their backing, a legislative committee handed out a controversial invoice Friday that will ban any books containing “pornographic or indecent” content material from Utah faculties, each in libraries and within the classroom.

“I believe we all know the issues which are most egregious,” stated Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, who’s sponsoring the measure. “We are able to’t depart them there and do nothing.”

The proposal, HB374, is available in response to a e-book banning motion that has been led by conservative mum or dad teams throughout the nation, together with in Utah. Right here in Canyons Faculty District, 9 books have been focused. In Washington County Faculty District, 5 titles have been reviewed and two pulled. And in Davis Faculty District, one other listing of 9 was created by dad and mom.

Most of these thought-about offensive concentrate on race and the LGBTQ neighborhood, together with “The Bluest Eye” by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison and “Gender Queer,” a graphic novel in regards to the creator’s journey of self-identity. These against eradicating the books say the trouble feels focused to silence minority voices.

However Ivory doesn’t see it that manner.

Echoing the calls for from right-leaning dad and mom who he stated requested him to run the invoice, HB374 “merely seeks to ban supplies underneath the state’s definition of pornography.” That was accepted by lawmakers in 2016, once they declared porn a public well being disaster.

The Legislature had already beforehand banned anybody from taking a look at pornographic supplies on college grounds, together with requiring web filters to dam these websites. Ivory stated HB374 is simply one other addition to that, by banning books with related materials already deemed unfit.

The definition of porn, in line with Utah regulation, broadly contains something that, when taken as an entire, could possibly be thought-about “dangerous to minors” within the illustration of nudity or sexual conduct and something that a median particular person finds “appeals to prurient curiosity in intercourse.”

Ivory’s invoice makes an exception for college books for well being and medical lessons. However he stated Friday that it ought to apply to all different library choices and sophistication curricula.

After greater than an hour of debate, the measure obtained an 11-2 vote within the Home Training Committee, with two Democrats opposed.

A battle in opposition to ‘erotica’

The primary draft of the invoice filed by Ivory was extra contentious.

It initially proposed banning something with “precise or simulated sexual conduct.” And it allowed dad and mom to sue a college for $10,000 if a e-book they objected to on that foundation was not eliminated.

Below the accepted measure Friday, that lawsuit provision was eliminated and the state definition of porn added as the rule of thumb.

Faculty directors would even be required to bear coaching from the Utah State Board of Training and the Utah Lawyer Common’s Workplace on methods to establish banned supplies. Every college district would then have to give you a coverage for eradicating them. (Many districts have already got a course of for listening to complaints about books.)

The state board would additionally report again every year to the Legislature on any complaints acquired by faculties about violations of the ban.

Ivory stated he considers the handed model simply “a primary step” within the effort to scrub up college libraries.

A number of dad and mom from Utah Mother and father United, a coalition of oldsters that pushes for conservative insurance policies in faculties, together with combating in opposition to important race concept, spoke in assist of the measure.

Brooke Stephens, the curriculum director for the group, has been main the battle in opposition to the 9 books in Canyons Faculty District (that are at present nonetheless underneath overview) and began a Fb web page the place others share what they’ve present in Utah faculties. She instructed lawmakers Friday about “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by LGBTQ activist George M. Johnson, which is in some faculties right here.

The e-book contains an autobiographical scene detailing an older cousin molesting the creator when he was a younger boy. Advocates for the e-book say it’s a actual expertise and serves to indicate readers what indicators to observe for in the event that they’re being preyed upon.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) 4 of 9 books which were faraway from faculties within the Canyons Faculty District and positioned underneath overview, Nov. 23, 2021. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and Past Magenta by Susan Kuklin.

However Stephens stated it shouldn’t be in entrance of kids who might test it out with out their dad and mom’ permission or information. It isn’t censorship, she added, to take away express and obscene supplies. Stephens stated that’s like calling it prohibition to not serve alcoholic drinks within the college cafeteria.

Some dad and mom stated college districts are too afraid to take away “erotica” they know is inappropriate for worry of pushback from civil rights teams.

Washington County Faculty District Superintendent Larry Bergeson stated that has been the case in his expertise. The southern Utah district’s board moved in December to take away two books — “The Hate U Give,” about how the police work together with folks of colour, and “Out of Darkness,” in regards to the relationship between a younger Mexican American lady and a Black teenage boy in Nineteen Thirties Texas. Bergeson was the deciding vote.

He stated the district has since returned them to library cabinets after “feeling pressured.” He particularly known as out the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, which has fought for college students’ First Modification rights to entry the books.

However Bergeson stated he hopes, underneath the invoice proposed by Ivory, that the district would have stronger grounds to eliminate them completely. Ivory agreed that he meant for the invoice to present districts extra energy to take away supplies.

“We have to have the power, the braveness to battle in opposition to these books being in faculties,” Bergeson stated.

Defending minority voices

Librarians and civil rights attorneys who assist retaining the books on library cabinets have stated this battle is about limiting what viewpoints college students can hunt down on their very own with a library card, particularly numerous viewpoints from traditionally marginalized teams.

Not one of the titles being questioned, they stress, are required studying — regardless that Ivory’s invoice would apply to the classroom, too.

Should you don’t like a e-book, don’t let your baby learn it, stated mum or dad Jonathan Bejarano. However he stated one group of oldsters shouldn’t be allowed to restrict what each baby can take a look at. And that features titles, he added, about folks like him, people who find themselves Latino.

He particularly pushed again in opposition to “Out of Darkness” being banned, saying it about people who find themselves underrepresented in literature and their wrestle.

One mother stated children of colour or LGBTQ college students ought to have the ability to see reflections of their identities in books. Ashley Anderson, one other mum or dad and an arts educator, known as it “censorship by a thousand cuts.”

A number of stated introducing college students to completely different viewpoints and experiences is how they be taught. And, they stated, the express passages are only one small a part of every e-book. One speaker identified that Shakespeare typically included lewd references in his works and requested if these can be banned, as effectively.

Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Murray, an affiliate professor, stated she agrees and worries about whose tales are being focused. She voted in opposition to the measure, together with Rep. Elizabeth Weight, D-West Valley Metropolis, a former trainer.

However Rep. Steve Waldrip, R-Eden, stated he believes the invoice strikes “a positive stability” between dad and mom not wanting their children to be uncovered to indecent supplies and making it too straightforward to ban any e-book that may be questionable.

“We should always have a excessive bar for these bans,” he stated.

The invoice strikes subsequent for consideration from the complete Home, with one week left earlier than the top of the session.

Bill proposes increasing school meal reimbursement

The Stage Up Diet for Kids in Each College Act launched in Congress would increase the reimbursement charge for college lunches to 59.5 cents per meal. The present charge is 10.5 cents per lunch, and the USDA applied a one-year, 25-cent reimbursement improve final month as a result of increased meals costs.

‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes in the Florida House, goes to state Senate : NPR

Florida State Rep. Carlos Smith speaks at a press convention on the Florida state capital in opposition to HB 1577, dubbed the ‘Do not Say Homosexual’ invoice by critics, on Tuesday, February 15, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Rick Wilson/AP


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Florida State Rep. Carlos Smith speaks at a press convention on the Florida state capital in opposition to HB 1577, dubbed the ‘Do not Say Homosexual’ invoice by critics, on Tuesday, February 15, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Rick Wilson/AP

Florida’s Home of Representatives handed a controversial invoice on Thursday limiting when and the way lecturers and faculty workers can focus on gender and sexual orientation within the classroom.

Opponents – a lot of whom have taken to calling the measure the “Do not Say Homosexual” invoice – say it would make life more durable for LGBTQ youth, who already face the next fee of bullying and the next danger of suicide than their straight, cisgender friends.

However the Republican sponsor behind H.B. 1557 says it goals to have faculties educate gender and sexuality at an acceptable age and hold dad and mom knowledgeable about what’s taking place within the classroom.

The laws prohibits any instruction about sexuality or gender between kindergarten and third grade “or in a fashion that’s not age-appropriate or developmentally acceptable for college students in accordance with state requirements.”

It could additionally assure dad and mom entry to their kids’s schooling and well being information and require that faculties notify dad and mom “if there’s a change within the pupil’s providers or monitoring associated to the scholar’s psychological, emotional, or bodily well being or well-being and the varsity’s skill to supply a secure and supportive studying surroundings for the scholar.”

Faculties might withhold data from dad and mom in the event that they believed that disclosing it might lead to abuse, abandonment or neglect.

Thursday’s vote drew condemnation from LGBTQ advocates and Democratic politicians within the state.

“As anticipated, the #DontSayGayBill simply handed the Florida Home, however SEVEN Republicans crossed celebration strains to vote in opposition to it,” Rep. Carlos G Smith said in a tweet.

“I need to thank [the Florida House Democrats] for his or her constant allyship and likewise thank the gang of seven who noticed our humanity and rejected this horrible laws,” he added.

President Biden beforehand slammed the proposal as properly. “I would like each member of the LGBTQI+ group — particularly the youngsters who will likely be impacted by this hateful invoice — to know that you’re cherished and accepted simply as you’re,” Biden tweeted earlier this month. “I’ve your again, and my Administration will proceed to combat for the protections and security you deserve.”

The invoice handed the Home by a vote of 69-47, in keeping with the chamber’s web site. Associated laws continues to be into account within the state Senate.

It is unclear whether or not Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis would signal the invoice if it reached him, however he did point out his common assist for the hassle throughout an occasion in early February.

“We have seen cases of scholars being instructed by completely different of us in class, ‘Oh, don’t fret, do not decide your gender but, do all this different stuff.’ They will not inform the dad and mom about these discussions which might be taking place. That’s completely inappropriate,” DeSantis stated on the time.

“The bigger concern with all of that is dad and mom will need to have a seat on the desk in terms of what is going on on of their faculties,” he stated.

Utah House committee rejects baseless claims of election fraud; soundly defeats bill to end universal vote by mail

Backers of HB371 did not persuade lawmakers that an overhaul of Utah’s elections was wanted.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, presents HB371 to the Home Authorities Operations Committee in Salt Lake Metropolis on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022.

The “cease the steal” conspiracy idea bumped into actuality as a invoice to finish Utah’s common mail-in balloting went down in flames throughout a Home committee assembly on Wednesday night.

A whole bunch of Utahns who championed former President Donald Trump’s baseless declare that the 2020 election was fraudulent packed into a number of rooms on the Capitol in assist of HB371 from Rep. Phil Lyman. They left disillusioned because the committee voted 7-3 to kill Lyman’s invoice.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) Attendees of the listening to for HB371 within the committee room on the Home constructing on the Capitol in Salt Lake Metropolis on Feb. 23, 2022.

Lyman’s large invoice, greater than 2,000 strains, was a radical overhaul of Utah’s elections and contained a number of concepts which have popped up within the wake of Trump’s 2020 loss. Utah’s common mail-in balloting would get replaced with same-day, in-person voting counted by hand. Most absentee balloting could be eradicated besides beneath sure circumstances. Registering to vote could be tougher. There may be additionally a provision for an unbiased audit of the election outcomes.

Lyman stated he was prompted to push for the election overhaul as a result of individuals don’t belief election outcomes.

“Each single vote ought to depend,” Lyman stated. “In Utah, we’ve a disaster of confidence in our elections.”

Lyman stored returning to his perception that an out of doors audit is essential to restoring the misplaced election confidence. Legislative leaders approved an audit of the state’s election methods in December, which eliminated a number of the urgency behind Lyman’s push.

A lot of the rationale behind arguments for overhauling Utah’s elections was flimsy and relied on anecdotes.

As an illustration, a number of individuals who spoke in assist of the invoice claimed they’d acquired a number of ballots within the mail or ballots for individuals who didn’t reside there. One particular person claimed his buddy tried to vote solely to be informed they’d already solid a poll.

“We’ve got an legal professional normal that’s charged with reviewing if there are any points, issues or fraud on a localized or widespread foundation and ensuring we convey individuals to justice. What has been the end result of these investigations in the previous couple of elections?” Rep. Steve Waldrip, R-Eden, requested.

“I don’t know what the Legal professional Common has investigated or if he’s investigated issues. On a county degree, each every so often, they’ll flag any individual for voting twice or one thing like that,” Lyman stated.

There are connections between Wednesday’s listening to and the election fraud conspiracy motion. Former Rep. Steve Christiansen, who resigned instantly in October, was an observer on the sham audit performed by the “Cyber Ninjas” in Arizona. In August, each Christiansen and Lyman attended My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell’s cybersecurity summit.

Teena Horlacher, who supplied public testimony, was in Washington D.C. when the assault on the U.S. Capitol occurred on Jan 6. Her daughter, Olivia Daybreak, is the present secretary of the Utah GOP.

Committee members anxious that ending common vote by mail would disenfranchise Utahns who might need issue making it to a polling place on Election Day.

Finally, Lyman couldn’t persuade his colleagues of the necessity for wholesale change.

“There’s quite a lot of misinformation on the market. I actually suppose it’s time we get right down to what’s actual and what’s not actual. I’m not satisfied we’ve widespread fraud within the state of Utah,” Rep. Cory Malloy, R-Lehi, stated.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) Chair president Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi Wednesday, on the listening to for HB371 on the Capitol in Salt Lake Metropolis on Feb. 23, 2022.

There’s no proof there was a lot public assist for ending default vote-by-mail in Utah. Backers of a proposed poll initiative aiming to do a lot of what was in Lyman’s invoice didn’t come near qualifying for November’s election. They wanted practically 138,000 signatures. They submitted about 28,000.

Seemingly sensing defeat, Lyman stated the problem would proceed even after the 2022 session.

“It’s an excellent dialogue to have, and I think it is going to proceed,” Lyman stated.

Is Union Pacific a poor corporate citizen? Utah House fast-tracks a bill to force cleaner tech

An engine pulls vehicles on the Union Pacific Roper yard in South Salt Lake on Tuesday. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Information)

Estimated learn time: 7-8 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are steamrolling forward with a invoice to strong-arm the most important railroad firm in North America, with a prime legislative chief accusing the corporate of being an unwilling and uncooperative accomplice in efforts to clear the state’s troublesome air air pollution.

Regardless of protests from Union Pacific, complaining that the invoice would mandate an not possible activity, the Home Financial Improvement and Workforce Providers Committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to endorse HB405 and ship it to the Home flooring.

Hours later, the complete Utah Home of Representatives fast-tracked the invoice and voted overwhelmingly — Democrats and Republicans — to approve it, with zero votes in dissent. It now goes to the Senate.

The invoice would require rail yards which have 4 or extra switchers — or a railroad locomotive used to maneuver rail vehicles inside a rail yard — to energy these switchers “wholly by a hydrogen gas cell or electrical energy” by no later than Jan. 1, 2028.

The invoice particularly targets Union Pacific’s Roper Rail Yard in Salt Lake Metropolis, which has “produced sufficient emissions that’s primarily equal to I-15 at rush hour” because of its over 40 switchers that use decades-old, “tier 0” know-how, College of Utah atmospheric scientist Dr. Daniel Mendoza informed lawmakers.

Union Pacific is without doubt one of the largest “level sources” or highest concentrated sources of air pollution in Salt Lake County, Mendoza stated, noting that these switchers should idle 24/7 in winter months to forestall the engine blocks from freezing or cracking.

“So sadly throughout our worst durations of air air pollution, throughout winter time, is when these engines are continually working,” Mendoza stated.

The Marathon refinery in Salt Lake City Utah on Feb. 15.
The Marathon refinery in Salt Lake Metropolis Utah on Feb. 15. (Photograph: Deseret Information)

Mendoza introduced alongside the invoice’s sponsor, Home Majority Chief Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, who urged lawmakers to move the invoice, saying Utah has had sufficient with Union Pacific’s unwillingness to have interaction.

“I’d hope … that Union Pacific would come forth and voluntarily assist resolve our drawback as an alternative of being one of many largest issues,” Schultz stated. “That is my hope, however that has but to occur.”

Different main firms like Chevron, Marathon Petroleum Company, Silver Eagle, HollyFrontier and Rio Tinto have labored with Utah leaders to supply tier 3 fuels or make investments thousands and thousands to assist enhance Utah’s air high quality, Schultz stated.

“These companies are nice company residents,” Schultz stated. “They’ve stepped up, they’ve spent thousands and thousands … to assist the air high quality throughout our state. Union Pacific proper now is just not a kind of good company residents.”

Whereas Union Pacific noticed it is largest revenue 12 months in 2021 — raking in $6.5 billion — and is making an attempt new know-how for freight switchers in different states like California and Nebraska, “Utah is not on their listing regardless that we’ve got the worst air high quality within the nation — and the world — at occasions,” Schultz stated, noting elements of the state stay nonattainment areas beneath the EPA.

Schultz went as far to say that regardless that Utah lawmakers have tried discussing the switcher difficulty with Union Pacific in years previous, the corporate has been digging in its heels. Schultz pointed to a different one among his payments, HB181, which he stated seeks to forestall Union Pacific from “holding hostage” widening of roads round railroad crossings by refusing to pay for upkeep of these crossings.

Schultz stated Union Pacific has been enjoying hardball, leveraging that invoice.

“I used to be informed on the final cellphone name that if I didn’t drop HB181 that they’d not transfer ahead on these discussions with regard to freight switchers and a few of the different considerations within the state,” Schultz stated.

“I believe we’ve got a much bigger drawback within the state with Union Pacific,” Schultz added. “Each time I flip round I hear of different points. Employees — I can’t imagine all the employees which have got here to me and talked about security considerations, and I’ve to confess, I’ve previously labored to kill a few of the payments that got here in entrance of this legislature to cope with the security points with the employees.

“And so I’m fairly disheartened, truthfully, about their willingness to have interaction on this,” Schultz continued, noting it has been 5 years since Rep. Steve Helpful, R-Layton, started engaged on the freight switcher difficulty. “My expertise hasn’t been that nice, both, in working with them.”

Schultz obtained a heat reception from his Home colleagues, together with fellow Republicans who’re often in favor of a business-friendly surroundings.

“It is unlucky when we’ve got to compel somebody, a non-public entity, to do one thing, however I believe this invoice is a invoice that has been a very long time coming,” stated Rep. Steven Lund, R-Manti.

An engine at the Union Pacific Roper yard in South Salt
Lake is pictured on Tuesday.
An engine on the Union Pacific Roper yard in South Salt
Lake is pictured on Tuesday. (Photograph: Deseret Information)

Nathan Anderson, senior director of public affairs for Union Pacific, urged lawmakers to not help the invoice, arguing it will set an not possible and unrealistic timeline for the railroad firm.

“We respect the sponsor’s effort on air high quality. We share these targets,” Anderson stated. “Union Pacific helps new know-how growth that improves each air high quality and operational effectivity. And we’re happy with our local weather motion plan, working towards a cleaner future. We count on innovation, disruption and transformation as know-how develops to satisfy the wants of our trade.”

Anderson stated Union Pacific intends to perform its purpose to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 “by means of a wide range of actions, together with the usage of new locomotive applied sciences.” The corporate is presently working to cut back emissions by means of working efficiencies and elevated use of diesel and renewable diesel fuels, he stated, and people various fuels “will permit us to make vital environmental positive aspects with our present fleet whereas evaluating promising however fledgling know-how.”

Anderson stated Union Pacific has launched a pilot program to check new battery electrical swap locomotives, anticipating to take possession of 20 by the top of 2024, “at which level we are able to start testing in earnest.”

These swap locomotives shall be examined in Nebraska and California — not Utah — as a result of these areas have extra excessive temperatures, have heavier rail quantity and “hump yards,” or elevated areas throughout the rail yard.

Anderson stated Union Pacific doesn’t count on battery electrical know-how to be “enough or out there at scale for operations” till after 2030. Within the meantime, it is “important” that Union Pacific’s fleet is ready to “preserve the nation’s provide chain fluid.” If the know-how proves to measure as much as their hopes, he stated Union Pacific is “open to partnering with Utah to convey a few of these items to the state as the brand new know-how turns into appropriate for broader deployment.”

“We welcome additional discussions to discover how we are able to work collectively to enhance air high quality and higher perceive the air high quality impacts of locomotives and the environmental advantages of rail,” Anderson stated.

‘Corporations must be held accountable’

Clear air advocates together with Ashley Miller, govt director of Breathe Utah, spoke in help of the invoice, saying she’s been “frequently dissatisfied” in Union Pacific’s switchers and their “lack of ability to come back to a voluntary settlement or any settlement with the state to improve this tools.”

“These firms must be held accountable for the air pollution they create, particularly when there may be know-how out there to cut back it so considerably,” she stated. “They should step up and do the fitting factor for the folks of Utah.”

Rep. Doug Owens, D-Millcreek, agreed, noting Mendoza’s feedback that cellular sources contribute to about 50% of Salt Lake County’s air pollution, and of that about 2% to three% is “straight attributable” to freight switchers.

“That is a really evident level supply that must be addressed,” Owens stated. “The necessity is clear.”

On the Home flooring, Helpful thanked Schultz for sponsoring the invoice, saying his previous conversations with Union Pacific — and the information that Nebraska and California, not Utah, would get to check out the brand new know-how — have been “discouraging.”

“Let’s unite collectively and ship a message that we deserve that consideration within the nice state of Utah,” Helpful urged his fellow representatives earlier than the vote.

Schultz, in an interview with the Deseret Information, stated he hopes Union Pacific will interact in conversations over the invoice because it strikes ahead. He stated he is open to negotiations.

“For 5 years, this has been talked about and talked about and talked about, and Union Pacific has put it off and punted and stated a whole lot of issues, however (we have) but to see any motion,” Schultz stated. “We would like to see any incremental enchancment.”

Schulz added Union Pacific continues to not solely “not interact, however be obstructionist” by threatening to carry payments — and roadways — “hostage.”

“It is irritating,” Schulz stated, “and I believe it simply exhibits that every one they care about is their backside greenback and their income.”

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