Episode 3 – Brave, Fragile, Still Talking

Welcome to Braving Politics Podcast! I’m Emily Bergeson, State Senate candidate with the United Utah Party.

A lot has been going on over the last week that has ramped up efforts to fix problems within law enforcement, especially relating to black citizens. 

This may be a scary and emotional time for many. As candidates with the United Utah Party we come from a variety of ideological backgrounds, but we choose to unite so that we can work together to improve things. During times when we may not all see eye-to-eye, it’s important to give each other some flexibility. We may say things that are misunderstood or taken the wrong way. We may encounter people who more vocally disagree with us. It can be daunting. These sensitive issues reveal how we are all sometimes a bit fragile, even as we try to be brave and make a difference. 

Most of this podcast will be dedicated to finding a way to have positive conversations, but I want to acknowledge that hurt feelings are real too. It’s okay to recognize when our feelings get hurt and take necessary breaks. We hope to give you some ideas for how to make things better, but it’s important to set our expectations appropriately. Not all conversations will go smoothly and we shouldn’t expect perfection from ourselves or from others. 

With that, we join with you in researching and trying to understand this issue better. There is a lot of great information available to us as we strive to understand and determine what we can do. It’s especially important to be willing to listen and discuss with others who may have a different viewpoint. That is sometimes difficult, but we can set the tone of kindness and patience. 

Since it’s not always easy to know how to be kind or patient with people, we’re going to walk through some tips that can apply in a variety of situations. These suggestions are good to keep in mind when the topic is especially sensitive. Included are a few sample phrases. I don’t know about you, but it does help to have specific phrases to pull out when I’m struggling. 

Let’s get started. 

Whenever you engage in any conversation, always assume good intentions. Even if you feel someone has said something particularly offensive, unless they are making it abundantly clear that they are trying to hurt your feelings, assume first that the person is not trying to hurt you. If we need to say this outloud we might say:

“I know you have a good heart and that you care, it’s just not coming across that way in what you’re saying.”

If someone is being particularly hurtful you might say,

“I’m sure you’re upset, either by something I’ve said or something else going on. But I think we can figure this out, and it doesn’t help to say hurtful things.”

Here’s another good rule of thumb:

Seek first to understand before trying to be understood. If we first try to understand the other person before we try to share our point of view, chances are the conversation will go a lot better. Even if we are struggling to understand, we shouldn’t necessarily give up and jump straight to explaining our position. You can let the other person know that you’re trying, even if you’re struggling.

You might say:

“I know this is hard and I really appreciate your patience with me. I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from, I really am. And, I’m not giving up until I do.”

As a note, if you need to take a break when it’s especially hard to see the other person’s point of view and you’re both frustrated, go ahead and take a break. Instead of saying something you might regret, it’s better to wait and try again later. 

Now, in some conversations, no matter how hard you are both trying to communicate, there are sometimes limitations that can’t be resolved in one conversation. Sometimes it’s okay to acknowledge these limitations openly, or maybe you’ll just have to make a mental note and move on. 

One common challenge is that we often speak in anecdotes, or in story form, trying to make connections as we attempt to make sense of what someone is saying. Sometimes those stories make it easy to relate to each other. Sometimes the stories cause more division and frustration.  It’s important to recognize there is likely a story to support either side of an issue. Getting trapped in anecdotes can escalate into “my pain is worse than yours” kind of conversation. At that point, it’s almost guaranteed we’re not listening. 

One way to solve this problem is to acknowledge the experiences and validate what you can. When engaged in a story war, no one wins. Change the cascade of one-upmanship with some of these phrases:

“Wow. That gives me a lot to think about.”

“Whoa. That doesn’t sound fun.” 

Even if your automatic response is to find a similar experience, fight the urge because by doing that, you can end up trivializing the other person’s experience. Just because you can find a similar experience doesn’t mean the experience itself was entirely similar. Again, seek first to understand before being understood. 

If you find yourself really struggling to understand someone else’s experience, all is not lost. You can give yourself some time to digest by saying something like: 

“I’m trying to see your point, but we are obviously coming from different experiences. That’s not to say either one of us has a more or less valid experience. It just might take some time before we can fully understand each other, and that’s okay.”

Another common limitation to a good conversation is when you recognize that either you or the other person is struggling to accept new information. It’s pretty normal for adults to struggle accepting something new or different. It can help to acknowledge that by saying: 

“You know, I know this isn’t a new issue, but I am struggling with some of these ideas that just don’t make sense to me. I don’t know if this conversation is going to fix it all and I might have to do some more research on my own before I’m ready.”

Also helpful might be to say:

“I know a lot of this may feel unfamiliar and I don’t expect you to accept everything I’m saying. You can take some time to research the topic some more on your own. I’m happy to share some of the resources I found helpful.” 

A note about offering resources… You are more likely to get people to take you up on your offer if you make it an open invitation, and not something forced or sarcastic. We need to ease into new information. We want the initial experience to be welcoming so it’s easier to swallow the changes that need to take place. And just so you know, it can be daunting to receive a 20 title book list to read, a number of  podcasts to listen to and several movies to watch. Whether for you or for your friend, keep it reasonable. 

Now, when conversations over sensitive topics get particularly heated, it can be helpful to set boundaries. If you’re struggling with something, don’t be afraid to speak up. You don’t have to suffer in silence. If there are some things that are just hard for you to hear, or things that are outside of your comfort zone, it can help to let the other person know specifically what that is. You should also invite the other person to set reasonable boundaries for themselves as well. Sometimes we don’t even realize we need boundaries and simply continue reacting. 

While phrases may be different based on the boundaries you need to set here is a sample scenario to get you started: 

Let’s say the person you are talking to constantly rolls her eyes or sighs every time you say something relating to your main points. In that case you might say:

“Hey, I’m sure this isn’t a comfortable conversation for you, would you rather stop?”

If the other person says yes, then you can say:

“That’s totally fine.”

This spares you the misery of putting up with rudeness and gives them a rest from being rude.

If the other person says that they would rather continue the conversation you might say:

“Okay. Cool. The only thing is, when you sigh and roll your eyes, I feel less likely to want to talk to you. I can totally understand that we see things differently, but this is becoming not so fun for me.” 

If you’re with me to this point, hopefully you’re not feeling totally hopeless. It is hard to elevate these conversations, especially when the other person might not give you much to work with. But as a small testimony, I have seen even the most angry of people back down when treated with kindness and respect. It’s worth a try every time. 

We have one more thing to talk about and that is finding common ground. 

I often hear the phrase “agree to disagree”. This is something you can use when you want to totally bail out of a conversation. But just like an eject button on an airplane, I would suggest using it sparingly. I would argue that more often than not, using the phrase “agree to disagree” does more harm than good. By saying it outloud you almost solidify it as fact, boxing the other person into their way of thinking. It makes it even harder to admit they can agree with you and might further entrench them. 

The truth is, our thoughts and opinions are quite flexible. So even if in a given moment, you disagree with someone, that may eventually change. So again, only use “agree to disagree” if you’re completely done with the conversation and you don’t care to pick it up later.

That leaves us looking for common ground that we can build on throughout the conversation. 

When a conversation is getting frustrating, I often take a step back and try focusing on the common ground. This gives everyone in the conversation a rest.

In fact, I have recently had conversations with several people about the Black Lives Matter movement and would like to share some of the common ground I found to build upon. 

  1. Most of us can agree that we don’t want police shooting people as a first response. This can help us build on what methods should be used first and then using that to discuss what policies and legal changes should be made so that police officers are far less likely to need to use their gun at all.
  2. In a recent conversion, we were able to agree it’s hard for police officers to quickly determine if a suspect is a “friend” or “foe”. Police are constantly dealing with the unsavory choices people make, which might cloud their judgement. We were able to acknowledge the problem of implicit biases and racial profiling. In a split second when a police officer might decide friend or foe — and they are operating on a faulty set of criteria — we have a big problem. 
  3. And that led to agreeing that Stereotypes are naturally faulty. We arrived at this common ground statement in stages. We started by talking about the stereotypes of men and women. Then we talked about some specific stereotypes that are wrong like, not all white guys with baggy pants are bad. Not all people with tattoos are evil. And not all black men wearing hoodies are up to no good. We started with the somewhat comfortable and then worked our way to the important points of the conversation.  
  4. This led to agreeing that we should all take a moment to inventory our biases. What things do we assume about other people? Other races? Other cultures? 

There is so much more to talk about and we have only just scratched the surface. But, we hope you will find opportunities to talk these issues through. The more we talk, the more we learn, the more we grow, the more we find meaningful solutions to these very real problems.

Episode 2 – The Worth of Your Vote

Welcome to Braving Politics Podcast! I’m Emily Bergeson, a candidate with the United Utah Party and today we will be talking about the worth of your vote. As a candidate of a new political party which seeks to find solutions outside of the two-party system, I often get asked several questions. The questions themselves reveal what we have been trained to think our vote is worth and provide a perfect framework for getting deeper into understanding why your vote is so important. 

Here’s a common question: If I vote for a candidate that is not a Republican or Democrat, won’t I just be throwing away my vote?

Let’s think about this question for a moment. Is any vote “thrown away”? No vote is ever thrown away. Why? Because people in politics LOVE numbers. They are constantly taking polls and collecting data. The best and most accurate poll, though, is the ballot box. Your vote is so important. So very important. Your vote is the only way you can really tell the government what you want.

The problem really comes when your options are limited. It’s not that you are throwing away your vote, it’s that you’re not able to say as much as you were hoping to say with that vote. 

Let’s use a simple example. Let’s say stores only carry apples and blueberries. They don’t carry anything else. And according to store policy, you can only buy one at a time — either buy apples or buy blueberries, but not both. Why is that? Because that’s the store’s policy and they have no reason to do anything differently. 

Okay, fine. It’s been a while and everyone is pretty much used to it, so you look at the apples, you look at the blueberries, think about the differences in cost and nutrients and finally pick one. Maybe your choice is easy. Maybe you come from a family who only eats apples. Maybe your family only eats blueberries. Maybe your family used to eat apples but now you’ve switched to blueberries. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Whatever it is, we’re at a point where everyone is talking so much about apples and blueberries that maybe we should pause to think…

Why do we only have two choices?

And if we are at that point where we want more choices, that’s where your vote comes in. That is the power of your vote. Your vote is how you tell people what you want. If you are fine with the way things are, use your vote to let the government know you’re happy. But if you’re unhappy with the way things are, you need to start voting differently. 

In 2016 when many voters were unhappy with the apples and blueberries they had to choose from, an independent candidate showed up and won an unusually high number of votes. Let me tell you, a lot of people took notice. That’s one reason why the United Utah Party was able to gain so much momentum. Because so many people were willing to vote for someone other than the Republican or the Democrat, signalling that people are not happy with the way things are. That made space for talented people who were willing to put in the work of creating a new political party so that now we have more choices. That would have been far less likely to happen if people weren’t willing to use their vote to say what they wanted.

Another question that sometimes comes up is the question about the “spoiler” effect? If I vote for someone outside of Republicans or Democrats, won’t I just be helping the other side? 

I’ll answer this question by first saying ranked choice voting could easily fix this problem. Ranked choice voting, instant runoff voting, or whatever you want to call it, allows you to vote for all and rank in order of preference, the candidates you like.  If your top choice doesn’t get enough votes, your vote is then given to your second choice. If the second choice doesn’t get enough votes either then, your vote is given to your third choice and so on until there is a clear winner. There are lots of cool videos that explain how this works. I seriously wish we were allowed to vote this way… I’m hoping we will get there eventually. Some parts of the country already use ranked choice voting.

Anyway, since most of us don’t have the luxury of ranked choice voting yet, your vote can only count towards one person. People argue that if you usually vote for a certain political party but then you decide to change over and vote for someone else, you weaken that political party’s chances of winning because this other option has stolen away the votes. Some voters are worried that voting for a new person will give more power to the candidates they REALLY don’t want to win. So they vote for the candidate they don’t necessarily like, but reason that it’s better than letting the other guy win. But, all that does is keep us stuck buying apples or blueberries. You know, maybe they were great at one point, but right now, I would give anything for a plum or peach or heck, even a vegetable…something else! And if you’re unhappy like I am, we need to vote accordingly.

Here’s another question I get. Doesn’t a third person coming into the race ruin things? I would argue they don’t. For one, if you are a Republican in Utah, the super majority held by Republicans is so large, it is really hard for a Democrat to win in most races, even if the Republican loses your vote. In fact, in certain races a Democrat doesn’t even bother running anymore because the chances of winning are so low. Take my race for example. I am the only other option. There is no Democrat in the race, no other political party, no other choice. Without me, the Repbulican would simply get coronated in November, without having had to do any work to win your vote. The same goes for super majorities in certain parts of the state and across the country where the Democrats or the Republicans are the majority. In cases like this, even if you tried, your vote wouldn’t help the “other side” win.  

In areas where people are more split and it’s anybody’s guess whether a Republican or Democrat will win is more interesting, and in that case, politicians rightfully argue that a third person could spoil it. That’s why I love the United Utah Party. The numbers show we take from both major parties. We appeal to both Republicans and Democrats, so if we’re splitting the vote, we’re splitting it from both sides. You voting for a United Utah Party candidate doesn’t necessarily help the “other person” win because there are plenty of other people like you who want to see the system change too.

But again, going back to the choices we have, things will never change unless we actively support the other option. Simply refusing to vote doesn’t help. You have to actually vote in order for people to stand up and pay attention. 

Our vote tells people, especially politicians — I like what you stand for or hey, you’re doing a great job. Our vote says I agree or I disagree. It is the best way to let people know what we think, what we’re happy about, what we’re unhappy about.

So with that in mind, think about the current political environment. There is a lot you can say with your one little vote. You can say, I don’t want either of you guys. You can say, Yeah! I totally agree with the way things are going. With every vote that says something honest and true to what you think, the more politicians and politics will adjust. Politicians pay attention to the polls. And the best poll is the ballot. 

Episode 1 – Braving Politics Together

Welcome to Braving Politics Podcast! This is our first episode where we share with you our vision for this podcast. To start off, let me introduce myself. I’m Emily Bergeson, a candidate with the United Utah Party, running for State Senate District 7 here in Utah. I’ve had to say that a lot over the last few months and I’m still getting used to it. Luckily I’m only running a state race, and not a federal race. That makes it a little less intimidating, but there are times I still feel way out of my league. Still, there are several reasons why I decided to run. The most important reason is that it gives me an opportunity to be doing things like this podcast. My hope is to make politics more inviting so that more of us get involved. And speaking of that, I’m running a campaign alongside three other fantastic candidates from the United Utah Party. They are also running for the legislature here in Utah, like I am, but for the Utah House of Representatives instead of the State Senate.  Kate Walters running for House District 56. She can be found online at waltersfor56.org. There’s Catherine Eslinger running for House District 59. Learn more about her at catherine4house 59.com. And there’s Christine Heath running for House District 60. Go to christine4utah.com. 

The four of us are Braving Politics Together. We come from different backgrounds, have different interests and talents — just like you. The great thing about that is we can all learn from each other, find common ground, and improve politics. It helps to take the time to understand each other and appreciate our diverse backgrounds. It also takes someone having faith in us that we have something worth contributing. I can’t tell you how often I hear people say they don’t know anything about politics and then within a few minutes, they express some amazing ideas about how to make things better. Hopefully we can build a little more faith in ourselves and each other.

Most of the time we assume people who are really good at politics have always been really good at politics and we’re the only ones struggling. That’s not true. We all struggle with some things. We all quickly master other things. Politics has so many layers and aspects to it, it’s impossible for any one person to get it right or understand it perfectly all the time. I would say that is particularly true with politics these days. Politics is becoming even more complex and we are seeing some amazing as well as disturbing things take place.

I believe we each hold a piece of the puzzle, a way through to help us understand it all better. No matter how little you think you understand politics, no matter how much you try to avoid it, you have something meaningful to contribute. 

I’ll use myself as an example. Most of my adult life I had little to no interest in voting. I largely believed it didn’t really matter whether or not I voted. On top of that, I almost never watched the news. I found it depressing and discouraging. I didn’t know the names of any of my local representatives. I tried once to have a political discussion with someone and failed miserably. I let politics lay dormant, convinced that politics just wasn’t for me. 

Then some things happened in my personal life, and in our nation that finally woke me up from my political slumber. It wasn’t pleasant. Like wiping slime from my lips, this sleeping beauty opened her eyes to a very unattractive political prince. 

Granted, the government doesn’t exactly make it all that attractive. Continuing with the fairytale theme, the government is like an ugly frog and you’re not quite sure if it’s worth finding out if the frog is a prince. It can be really hard to figure out what’s going on, let alone what things mean. Since being awakened,I’ve learned that I don’t have to do it all myself. And guess what. This isn’t a fairytale I’m stuck in. Instead, it’s many stories with many heroes, including you. We all have things we’re bravely doing. We’re making a difference in our own way.

It is our hope at Braving Politics Together that we can all indeed work together, be brave together as we figure out politics. We’ll be exploring a variety of themes and issues that will be foundational for helping us make informed decisions that will help fix the problems we’re currently facing. It’s not going to be easy. At times it won’t be pretty. It is going to take all of us being brave together.

COVID-19: What’s Next in Utah

We’re all getting more and more anxious about what the future holds and the measures taken by the state to stop the spread of COVID-19. There’s a lot to keep track of with updated information coming in all the time. 

For example, the governor of Utah recently announced in a press release that starting May 1st, the state will transition from a level “red” or high risk, to a more moderate or “orange” level. 

What does that mean exactly? What changes will affect us personally?

When you get a minute, there’s a 28-page document called “Utah Leads Together: Utah’s plan for a health and economic recovery”. This document outlines a lot of these changes and the indicators that the Economic Response Task Force will be using to guide the state between each phase. For a more simple read, there’s a 19-page document which outlines the different phases and what guidelines are required or recommended to each industry. Even though they are both a bit long, these documents are really well organized and worth looking over.

Having read through both documents, I would like to highlight some important points. As much as you can, be sure to stay informed. Knowledge is power, especially at a time like this.

A large part of the efforts of the Utah Leads Together document focuses on how businesses and indivduals can access state and federal help. If you do not yet know where to find these resources, it would be worth reading through the 28-page Utah Leads Together document. It does a great job explaining each supportive measure. If you need help, make sure you know where to find it.

Utah, it seems, will be using a new color system to indicate where we are in responding to COVID-19. Here are the colors and their respective score (level of risk and disruption) and the main differences between them:

Red: (10-8) Essential activity only. Schools closed. Work from home except for necessary services. Shelter in place. Rate of COVID-19 cases rising.

Orange: (7-5) Essential activity with limited additional activities if following safety precautions such as wearing face masks and staying 6-feet apart. Schools still closed. Work from home. Rate of COVID-19 cases leveling and/or falling.

Yellow: (4-2) Schools open. Continue to maintain general social distancing measures. Possibly return to work, but with the idea to remain cautious and vigilant. Continue monitoring to avoid sudden spikes in COVID cases. Rate of COVID-19 cases falling.

Green: (1) “New Normal” Schools and businesses open, but with higher standards for cleaning and hygiene. We are not sure how long it will take to reach the GREEN phase.

At all levels, high-risk individuals should still take additional precautions. Those who live with high-risk individuals should follow similar safety measures to protect these individuals.

These documents include a number of guidelines and requirements as Utah transitions between the various phases.

So, as we move from RED to ORANGE, what’s the difference?

The short answer, not a whole lot. 

As we transition to ORANGE over this next week, we will still need to engage in social distancing, work from home, wear face masks, sanitize hands, clean surfaces, and limit interactions with others. More detail has been added to all phases, especially to the RED and ORANGE phases in the hopes of standardizing these practices.

The biggest difference between RED and ORANGE, however, is regarding non-essential businesses. Many of those businesses are going to start opening back up at varying degrees. As businesses open, depending on their industry, they will be taking similar precautions and follow safety procedures that we’ve seen in, for example, grocery stores. 

Gyms are encouraged to stay closed, but with guidance for the ones that decide to reopen. Salons and other services that require close personal contact will be allowed to open under strict guidelines. People are allowed to attend events, but with the same social distancing protocols and procedures that reduce or eliminate contact. Hotels and other hospitality industries are given specific guidance as well. 

One recurring theme is the face mask. Face masks are now generally required when going out and about, especially when it is likely you will have to interact with someone at a distance less than 6 feet. Free face masks will be available to those who struggle getting one.

As various places of business open up and you begin to venture out again, you need to be mindful of a bill that passed in the recent special session. Senate bill (SB) 3007 protects businesses and entities from legal action relating to COVID-19. In other words, if you get COVID-19 at a restaurant, you won’t be able to sue the restaurant. This isn’t all that different from the way things were before. If you caught a cold at a restaurant, you also couldn’t sue the restaurant because you caught the cold. Either way, proceed with caution.

This is exciting and scary news to a lot of people. Those who have been struggling economically, even with supportive measures from varying levels of government, are looking forward to reopening and offering their services to the public again. Others feel we are moving too soon and will lose the ground we’ve gained. Utah has been especially good — fantastic even — at responding quickly to the COVID-19 threat. Many worry that we will have to start all over again.

And that leads me to my last point. 

Regardless of where you stand as we battle this pandemic, there are plenty of things we can do to protect ourselves and the ones we love. In those moments you feel powerless, remember that what you do matters. It does help. And your willingness to do your part will make a difference.

Legislative Special Session – Special Needs Scholarship

As we follow the Legislative special session to address the emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic, an odd bill stands out in the line-up. HB 332 is a bill, which passed during the regular legislative session but was vetoed by the governor earlier this year, is making another pass with the hope of getting enough support to overturn the veto.

But honestly, what is this bill and what does it do? Essentially, HB 332 would give corporations, as well as individuals, income tax credit for donating money for the purpose of helping private schools accommodate students with disabilities through a scholarship program – the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program. This scholarship program would be managed by the State Board of Education. As it oddly sticks out, it’s interesting trying to peel back the layers and understand this bill.

To begin, the difference between a public and a private school has a lot to do with accountability and oversight. By definition, a private school is free from government entities looking over their shoulder. For those who don’t like certain aspects of public education, it is their right to pay tuition or seek scholarships to attend a private school. Most people agree that choices in education are important, including the choice to attend a private school.

Okay, so students and parents should have choices, even students with special needs. As a person who serves as an American Sign Language interpreter, I agree wholeheartedly!

But there are a few important questions we need to ask. Should we give corporate donors tax breaks because they donate to the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program? Does giving an income tax break to corporations impact our revenue? Does it put an undue burden on the State Board of Education?

I would argue yes. Here’s why.

Does giving an income tax break to corporations impact our revenue?

Income tax is how we pay for education. As we give corporations tax breaks, the amount of money we can collect for education goes down. This leaves fewer dollars to cover the needs of the state. So though the state would not be paying for the scholarships directly, we would be paying indirectly in lost revenue.

Does it put an undue burden on the State Board of Education?

This is probably the most important question. Because private schools are not required to follow the rules and regulations that public schools do, there is still a need to provide oversight for the care of special needs students receiving an education at a private school. Each student qualifies for this Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship by having an IEP (students under the Individualized Education Program — supported by IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Receiving and maintaining an IEP is intense and requires at least five different people. IEPs are evaluated at least every three years and in the case of a private school, would have to be conducted by the local public school. So a public school would still have to be responsible for the educational goals and responsibilities of a special needs student, but would have no say or control over the measures taken to meet the needs of the Education Plan.

In addition to all of that, the State Board of Education would become responsible for this private school’s scholarship program, managing the funds, determining qualified applicants, and conducting any follow up and oversight to ensure proper use of the funds. That all requires additional money that would be paid for by the state.


I have wondered why this particular bill is so important, especially given that we already have the Carson Smith Scholarship Program which essentially does the same thing. The one thing that stands out as a difference between the Carson Smith Scholarship Program (CSSP) and the proposed Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program (SNOSP) is the source of funding. CCSP is funded through the general fund and controlled by the legislature. Funds for the SNOSP but is donation based and is tied to an income tax credit.

I also can’t help but notice that one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Lincoln Fillmore, is a former private school principal.

Studying this bill and trying to understand the real reasons for pushing it through at such a time as this makes me feel all the more certain that we need to be understanding these issues and making decisions together.

If indeed we feel that it’s important to support students with special needs having the choice they would otherwise not have to attend a private school, I would love to understand that point better. I would also love to round out that discussion with appreciating and understanding the efforts made by public schools to equally serve the needs of all students, including those with special needs.

Let us all continue to understand and learn together.

Utah Legislature: Special Session

Last updated 4/15/2020

The Legislature has posted a number of things they hope to cover during the special session (which starts April 16th). The biggest items will be figuring out the budget, making sure people and businesses are going to be okay, and what to do about state education now that everything has moved online. Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

1 – Whether to accept funds from the United States federal government.
2 – How to adjust the budget.
3 – How much to increase our state’s debt (in the form of bonds).
4 – More budget stuff — implementing changes and reporting requirements
5 – Unemployment insurance — less waiting time for applicants (but not everybody)
6 – Worker’s Compensation — cover certain first responders
7 – Retirement plan distributions — look at income tax provisions
8 – Economic recovery — establishing protocols, requirements and processes
9 – How to help Utah businesses and residents
10 – Changing requirements for responding to pandemic emergencies – STATE level
11 – Same as number 10, but for the LOCAL level
12 – Figuring out how to make it easier for infected patients to obtain safe medications
13 – Protecting medical professionals and health care facilities from being sued
14 – Deciding what to do about this year’s elections in November (the primary election)
15 – Looking at municipal annexation requirements. (This refers to cities expanding their borders to include additional areas. This would impact people living within a county line, but outside of a city limit.)
16 – Make changes to sales and use tax on fuel for trains.
17 – Provide scholarships for students with disabilities to attend qualifying private schools. Also create tax credit for donors of the scholarship program
18 – Encourage state and local government organizations to use their money wisely.
19 – Look at education — changing requirements (like grades, graduation, testing, etc.) to accommodate the emergency.
20 – Create a statement expressing unity with the Chinese people.
21 – Protect infected people and organizations from getting sued over exposure.

The official document with this information can be found at https://le.utah.gov/~2020S3/2020S3.HTM

The Utah Legislature is in session for only 45 days out of the year. In that time (from mid January to mid March) official business can be conducted, such as pass bills and budgets. From late March to early January, the legislature has what’s called an interim session when bills and budgets can be discussed, but nothing can be passed into law.

So when important things come up, like this whole — I don’t know — COVID-19 thing, there are times when the legislature will call for a special session when official business can be made. This involves the governor too and with together the legislature can get things done to address certain needs outside of the regular session.

Video – Special Legislative Session: What is it and what you should know?

But what exactly do they plan to discuss? What are some of the issues?

For one, the budget. With the federal income tax deadline extended to July 15 our own state budget is impacted and will need to be evaluated and adjusted. There’s also the federal funds that have been extended to certain industries. This may also impact the legislature’s planned budget. During this special session law-makers can look at immediate needs and respond accordingly.

Along with budget concerns, the legislature may discuss what appropriate responses should be made by the government for transitioning once we are ready to reopening various businesses that have had to close because of COVID-19.

While in session, the legislature may also discuss other bills that are not related to the current pressing needs, but that they feel are important business to conduct while they are in special session.

The biggest question right now? How will the public have access to this session? Usually legislative sessions are open to the public. With social distancing and the session being conducted virtually, the question is whether this session will be accessible to the public. Consider contacting your legislature if you would be interested in making this session accessible.

Not sure who your legislators are? Go to le.utah.gov and put in your physical address to find out who represents you. You will also find their contact information on that website.

Face Mask Fundraiser

Life is challenging as we do our best to adapt since the outbreak of COVID-19. As new information becomes available, we do our best to apply best practices. One of the latest things our health leaders advise is the use of a face mask. While face masks do not protect us from getting the virus directly, it helps reduce the amount of times we touch our face while in public. It helps signal to others the seriousness of this disease and brings us together as we do our part to prevent its spread.

We would like to offer free face masks to anyone who donates to one of our candidates. Our candidate Emily Bergeson for SD 7 will be making these masks by hand and to-order.

How does it work?

Make a donation to one of our candidates and then send an e-mail with your order to contact@bravingpoliticstogether.com. Please include:

  • Candidate who received your donation
  • Fabric selection
  • Size
  • Quantity

We will contact you to confirm your order and delivery preferences. We are also happy to send masks to other friends and relatives. We will work with you on those details.

Questions? Contact us at contact@bravingpoliticstogether.com

Sizes: men, women, teen, youth (7-12), child (3-6)

All masks are made according to the design pictured above. These masks are made with a white quilters cotton lining (the part that touches the face) and has elastic around the ears. These masks do not have wire around the nose. For custom requests or questions, feel free to contact us!

Fabric choices (please check regularly as choices are based on supply):

Cherry checkered
(loose weave poly-cotton)
(stiff cotton blend)
Garden flowers
Silly Monsters
(quilters cotton)
Flowers on green background
(quilters cotton)
(quilters cotton)
(quilters cotton)
Noah’s ark repair
(quilter’s cotton)
Light green crosshatch
Red with white polka dots
(quilters cotton)
Red and navy plaid
Silly dogs
Light blue
(quilters cotton)
navy blue
(quilters cotton)

Also available in plain white.