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Legislature Week 1: Heritage We Go

davidwicaiBlog, Legislature, Museum

This year’s legislative session jumped quickly, and doesn’t seem inclined to slow too quickly.

That holds particularly true for our department, as House Speaker Brad Wilson opened his tenure with a rousing speech that pointed to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad as a source of motivation. He also declared his desire to replace the State Office Building with expanded parking and a place to display the historical artifacts owned by the state.

That proposal took nearly everyone by surprise, especially since it lacked any firm details. As a department, it also raised questions — yet unanswered — about the impact on the proposed Artifact & Arts Collection Center that many people in the department have worked on for nearly two years.

As of now, the department is focused on the collections center as the ideal solution for the storage issues faced by both State History and Arts & Museums. A presentation is scheduled for Feb. 8 with the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee for that proposal, and the priority remains finding a proper storage facility.

Plenty of other activity happened at the Capitol during this first week, as well.

Utah History Day on the Hill: Always one of the highlights for the department, 20 students who had represented the state at the National History Day brought their exhibits to the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday. The students also received tributes from the House and Senate floors. Along with the student exhibits, State History was able to show some of their fine work, such as the Transcontinental Railroad story map.

Museum Day: Although not an official event for any of our divisions, this day for museum professionals to visit with legislators always has a lot of participation from Arts & Museums staff. They had a particular focus this year as many of them advocated for the proposed $6 million increase in ongoing funding for Arts & Museums grant.

Bills: A full list of bills that interest us as a department can be found here. A couple of bills did begin their journey through committees, most notably the Ancient Human Remains amendments that passed their Senate committee Thursday afternoon.

Upcoming: Next week will remain busy. Monday morning, Jill Love and Kerri Nakamura will give a budget presentation to the Business, Economic Development, and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee. Monday is also American Indian Caucus Day, as well as a chance for legislators to honor Navajo Code Talkers. Tuesday is the Multicultural Youth Leadership Day on the Hill. And finally, on Friday will be the presentation on the collections center.