Sunday, January 13, 2019

Climbing the learning curve

Here we are, only a few short weeks from the start of the 2019 General Session. My mind spins at the scope of the information that I have obtained and, more significantly, have yet to absorb. And so, I am so very grateful for all of the advocates and lobbyists (yes, lobbyists) out there who are willing to provide information and perspective on their respective issues and areas of expertise. Before we move on, let's revisit that "lobbyist" term. Yes, there are bad actors. There are unscrupulous, personal-gain-driven, untrustworthy lobbyists in our state. There are also truly good people trying to do truly good work in Utah. State law requires anyone whose paid job is to advocate for policy issues at the Utah Capitol to obtain and maintain licensure as a lobbyist. It is what I used to do for a living. As a registered lobbyist (my license, not my job title), my job was to provide education and insight on healthcare and public health policies on which I had gained a certain level of expertise. All legislators depend on knowing trustworthy, knowledgable people to help inform on critical issues. While (the current) we (as legislators) try our best know as much as possible about as much as possible, it simply isn't possible to know it all. So (the former) we (lobbyists and advocates) work hard to provide timely information on policy issues that have the potential to impact millions of lives in our state.

Rest assured, I do not always take the information that is presented to me at face value, but I do value knowing who the advocates and lobbyists are, what issues they work on, what resources they may be able to provide so that I have ready access to all kinds of information, and what their strategies may be. Even if I don't agree with someone on an issue, having all of the information on both sides of an argument is essential to making wise, informed decisions. The decisions made at our state capitol have significant gravity, and we would be doing the people of our great state a huge disservice if we failed to maximize our own understanding and education. For that I need access to knowledge and experience, and I need it quickly and efficiently.

I'm grateful for all of the people with whom I've met over the past couple of months and to those that I will have the opportunity to interact with in the future. If you've got some info you think I need, be sure to let me know. I will be better at my job if you help me build the breadth and depth of my own knowledge, and for that, in advance, I thank you.

Be sure to check back in a day or two for a post on what I've got coming up this session. I'll do a run down of the bill files that I've opened and, more importantly, some thoughts on the legislative priorities of my colleagues, both nefarious and beneficial.

Finally, here are is a link with contact info. Don't forget, if you're a constituent and you wish to email, please put the word "Constituent" in the subject line (those are the emails that I will prioritize). Phone calls are, of course, welcome, but I'm likely to respond more quickly if you send me a text message: 385-321-7827.

Utah House of Representatives Roster
Utah Legislative Website

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

Greetings and Happy New Year! 2018 was a wild ride for our family, what with my running to serve in the Utah Legislature. June saw lively and competitive primary elections all over Utah, but right here in House District 24, we experienced the state's first ever (and to date, the only) 4-person primary. There was a little bit of criticism about our state's evolving primary process, most notably because with that large of a field, no one received a majority of the vote. Instead, the primary was won with a plurality, in this case with a winning tally of just over 35 percent. Some called for a run-off election, which would have been costly for Salt Lake County, costly for candidates (possibly putting the ultimate winner at more of a disadvantage going into the General Election), and exhausting for voters. I don't claim that the process is perfect. It may be a little unsettling when one can credibly claim that our district is being represented by an individual for whom a majority of voters did not vote, but I do believe that it is a necessary compromise in order to ensure that more people have access to ballot via the signature-gathering process.

In the end, after the 2018 General Election in House District 24, with record voter turnout (18,275 total voters), a candidate was selected with a strong majority of voters. The shortcomings of a primary-election plurality have been mitigated. And further, voters in our district came out in droves to support a new state senate candidate, incredible Democratic candidates for Congressional District 2 and the US Senate, and - very importantly - three groundbreaking ballot initiatives (I'll save a future post for the activity that has since occurred regarding Proposition 2, our state's Medical Cannabis law).

In preparing for the 2019 General Session, having been given the incredible honor of serving on behalf of Utah's House District 24, I am working to make sure that the constituents I serve have ready access to information about important work occurring in our state, and to finding ways to ensure everyone gets information in meaningful ways which are conducive to how each prefers to get that info. I will always strive to be very accessible to my community, to be transparent, hard-working and sincere. To that end, I'll post regularly on this blog, post in social media, and schedule regular public meetings at a variety of locations inside our district.

And please don't hesitate to reach out to me! My legislative email, available on January 1, will be jdprovost@le.utah.gov (be sure to identify yourself as a constituent in the subject line - those are the emails that I'll read first). To track the bills that I'll be sponsoring this year, you can visit www.le.utah.gov.

Happy 2019! Thank you for the opportunity to serve!