10 Years of Legislative Service
Her public policy work and “never say die” attitude provided a strong voice for the constituents of HD24.
Committee and Leadership Assignments
House Minority Whip (2014-16); House Minority Assistant Whip (2012-14)
Standing Committees: Health & Human Services, Government Operations
Interim Committees: Economic Development & Workforce Services, Health & Human Services
Appropriations Committees: Social Services
Special Committees: Co-Chair - Women in the Economy Commission; Member - Governor's Multicultural Commission; Member - Health Reform Task Force
Link to All Sponsored/ Co-sponsored Legislation: http://www.le.state.ut.us/asp/billsintro/RepResults.asp?Listbox3=CHAVER
Leadership Credentialing and Appointments:
Henry Toll Fellowship, Council of State Governments (CSG) (2012)
Western Legislative Academy, Council of State Governments (CSG) (2009)
Latino Voting Task Force Chair, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (2010-18)
2018 General Session
6th Sub. HB218 - Modifications to Election Law (Chavez-Houck/Henderson): After eight years of effort, I was finally successful in passing permanent Election Day Voter Registration! In the sixth substitute, components of other bills were also folded into this omnibus bill. Those components include
Refining the use of exclusive county-wide Vote-by-Mail (VBM) elections, including the requirement that county clerks must provide additional voting centers for voters who chose not to use VBM.
Allowing those who register to vote (when they apply or renew at the DMV) the ability to designate party affiliation and to request that their voter record be made private, without justification.
1st Sub. HCR12 - Concurrent Resolution Calling Upon Congress to Assure a Complete and Accurate 2020 Census (Chavez-Houck/VanTassell): It came to my attention over the past few months that the Trump Administration (in concert with Congress) is requiring the Census Bureau to conduct the 2020 Census using the same budget as was allocated for the 2010 Census. The Administration believes it can conduct the 2020 Census with fewer enumerators and at lower costs by utilizing the internet for online enumeration. I find this extremely disconcerting. Congress did eventually include more funding for the Bureau in its most recent budget reauthorization, but even this is not enough to implement a thorough 2020 Census.
For rural Utahns and those from marginalized communities, this process may result in an undercount. Take a look at this website to learn more: http://www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us/ This resolution calls upon the Administration and Congress to allocate the appropriate resources and processes to count all Utahns.
Here is an op-ed that Senator Kevin Van Tassell (my Senate Floor Sponsor) and I authored that ran in the Salt Lake Tribune during the session: https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2018/01/26/commentary-a-flawed-census-could-hurt-utahs-rural-areas-and-marginalized-communities/
SCR11 Concurrent Resolution on Awareness and Treatment of Maternal Depression & Anxiety (Zehnder/Chavez-Houck): Maternal depression and anxiety is the number one complication of childbirth, with at least one in eight Utah women suffering from postpartum depression. In light of Utah's high suicide rates, Sen. Zehnder (who is a practicing family physician) and I passed this resolution to bring awareness about this public health concern. It is our hope that this first step will help women and their families access evidence-based, cost-effective screening, detection and treatment options.
2017 General Session:
1st Sub. HB278 - Expenses of Minor Children (Chavez-Houck/Weiler): This bill addresses circumstances where two parents are jointly responsible for a minor child's expenses pursuant to court order, but one parent fails to pay or otherwise comply with this order. It allows for the parents to be billed separately for their respective portion, according to the calculations provided in the parties' divorce decree. The bill applies only to medical/dental bills and school fees (as defined by law).
2nd Sub. SB74 - Medical Interpreter Amendments (Escamilla/Chavez-Houck): This was an update of a bill that I ran back in 2009 that established a voluntary certification program for medical interpreters. It was necessary for us to update the law to eliminate the list of languages in the bill (it's hard to keep this current and extraneous to have that in the code). We also now offer a tiered system for certification and provide a mechanism for interpreters to use national interpreter qualifying organizations to validate their expertise.
2016 General Session:
HB241 - Computer Abuse and Data Recovery Act (CADRA) (Chavez-Houck/Weiler): CADRA protects business owners and employers from employees who intentionally and maliciously abuse access to a company’s information and databases, and allows the employers to pursue civil action and seek damages in court. The scope of this legislation has solid precedent in Florida, and is narrowly defined in order to protect business owners from malicious intent.
HB328 - Housing and Homeless Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Dabakis): Requires the state’s Homeless Coordinating Committee to conduct a needs assessment on all homeless services data-gathering processes. This will identify areas that need improvement so that all agencies can more effectively share data and information on homelessness services across the state of Utah. This will allow us to holistically track those who come into our system, enabling all agencies that interact with these individuals and families to better design programs that serve the homeless community.
SB49 - Statute of Limitations on Environmental Code Violations (Escamilla/Chavez-Houck): This bill increases the amount of time state environmental regulators have to investigate and issue penalties on complaints against industrial polluters.
2015 General Session:
HB219 - Election Day Voter Registration Pilot Project Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Henderson): Extends the opportunity to register on the day of voting to those who vote during the early voting period.
HB220 - Vote by Mail Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Knudson): Makes explicitly clear that a vote-by-mail ballot is timely if the ballot is postmarked, or otherwise clearly marked as received by the post office, before Election Day.
HJR21 -Joint Resolution Granting Easements for Construction of a Traffic Light (Chavez-Houck/Dabakis) Grants the Utah Department of Transportation easements to construct a traffic signal on the northwest corner of Capitol Hill grounds, which is part of our district. This improvement provides much-needed pedestrian and vehicular safety at the corner of Victory Road and 500 North.
2014 General Session:
HB390 – Unlawful Activities Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Weiler): This bill was unanimously recommended by the House Investigative Committee which had been looking into the complaints of breach of public trust against former Attorney General John Swallow. It allows charges to be filed, under Utah’s Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act, when crimes of obstructing justice (like tampering with evidence of falsification of a government record, if it is part of elections or lobbyists disclosure codes) are committed.
NOTE: The House Investigative Committee, on which I have served since last summer along with eight of my House colleagues, released our final report, as well as links to related evidence corroborating our findings at the end of the session. You can review the report on Utah’s legislative website: www.le.utah.gov. Feel free to contact me regarding any of the findings or recommendations outlined in the report.
1st Sub. HB156 – Election Day Voter Registration Pilot Project (Chavez-Houck/Henderson): This would allow county and municipal elections officials to opt into a pilot program that would allow them to count provisional ballots cast by on Election Day new voters as both registration and ballot during the post-Election Day canvas, after the voter’s eligibility is verified.
I have been working on this bill in one form or another for the past five years; it is my hope that as a pilot project, administrative concerns expressed by rural county clerks can be allayed and we can get statewide processing in place by 2017. I want to publicly offer heartfelt thanks to my Senate Floor Sponsor, Sen. Deidre Henderson. Originally opposed to the concept last year, she was an incredible champion for the pilot program and understands and appreciates the need for a failsafe for new prospective voters who thought they were registered and currently have no recourse to both register and have their vote count on Election Day.
1st Sub. HB267 – Aging and Adult Services Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Shiozawa): This bill clarifies the power and duties of Adult Protective Services, placing in code the ability for APS to access important financial and health records of vulnerable adults who might be victims of fraud, abuse or neglect. It also allows city attorneys to access APS’s database to help expedite complaints of abuse, fraud or neglect.
HJR14 – Joint Resolution on Caregiving (Chavez-Houck/Shiozawa): This resolution recognizes the role that caregivers provide for Utahns who need assistance in meeting their daily needs. It is a precursor to work I plan to do over the interim to assure that caregivers in our community have the resources and services they need to effectively help their loved ones. The work that Utah’s 382,000 caregivers provide reduces the need for costly assisted living or nursing home care and provides an economic value of $4.2 billion a year.
2013 General Session:
1st Sub. HB82 – Elections and Early Voting During a Declared Emergency (Chavez-Houck/Knudson) - This bill authorizes the Lieutenant Governor, working in concert with local elections officials, to designate a different method, time, or location relating to voting, early voting, or canvassing an election during a declared emergency.
HB90 – Fishing License Waiver Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Okerlund)– I was asked to run this bill by students in Salt Lake City School District’s Open Classroom Charter School in the Avenues. Current law allows individuals younger than 14 years old participating in youth organizations to fish without a license under certain circumstances. “Youth organization” was defined as the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America, and any non-profit organization that “promotes character building through outdoor activities.” HB90 proposes to expand that exemption to schoolchildren in the same age range who are participating in similar outdoor activities. Students from the Open Classroom co-presented the bill with me in both House and Senate Committees. The bill passed unanimously out of both chambers. where it passed unanimously.
2012 General Session:
HCR008 – Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA (Chavez-Houck/Robles): This resolution honors the positive contribution made by this organization in the lives of Utah women and girls since its founding in 1912. We passed a similar resolution in 2010 at the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Boy Scouts of America. I felt it was only fair that GSUSA be honored in the same fashion. As a Girl Scout, I was very proud to sponsor the resolution.
HB119 – Study on Signing Petitions Online (Chavez-Houck/Bramble): I was pleased to work with the Lt. Governor’s Office on this bill. It will allow his elections staff to formally study the process by which voters can sign ballot proposals online. They are required to report the results of their efforts by September 2013. Arizona is running a pilot program this year to use electronic signatures in certain cases, so I am eager to learn from their experience as we study this further.
HB506 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Special License Plate (Chavez-Houck/Stephenson): Proceeds from the purchase of this plate will be placed in a restricted account, from which funds will be awarded to programs that create or support civil rights awareness and education in our community. Due to legislation that was passed last year, any new special license plates must have a minimum of 500 completed purchase application in advance of issuing the plates. If you are interested in participating in advance purchases to help the State’s Martin Luther King Commission reach this goal, please let me know. I am extremely honored to be asked by the Commission to run the bill.
HB180 – Food Stamp Reference Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Robles): This bill changes all references in state code related to “food stamps” to the updated name, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is the official name of the federal program. Making these technical, yet simple changes in the code more accurately reflects the scope and intent of the program.
2011 General Session:
HB130 – Election Day Voting Centers (Chavez-Houck/Knudson)
Centralized Voting Centers currently used only for early voting will be open on Election Day, allowing voters to cast provisional ballots. This gives voters more options as to where they can vote (a center might be closer to their work or school than their designated voting precinct) and eliminates voter confusion.
2010 General Session:
HB232—Medical Language Interpreter Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Christensen): Augments the Medical Language Interpreter Act by providing for a term of certification, as well as a process for filing complaints and issuing disciplinary actions when industry standards are violated.
HB161—Voter Registration Amendments (Chavez-Houck/Jenkins): Authorizes the Lt. Governor’s Office to cross-reference the state voter registration database (VISTA) with name and address changes entered in state agency databases (i.e., drivers’ license division address changes) to update voter information. Provides administrative efficiencies for county clerks and reduces the need for voters to re-register when they move.
HJR30—War Veterans’ Memorial on Capitol Hill (Chavez-Houck/McAdams): Supports a privately-funded citizens’ effort to establish a memorial for disabled veterans of foreign wars on the Capitol Hill campus.
SB204—Midterm Vacancy Amendments (McAdams/Chavez-Houck): Provides and clarifies procedures for declaring a state senatorial candidacy if a vacancy in the office occurs after the filing deadline but before September 1 of an even-numbered year in which the term of office does not expire.
2009 General Session:
HB144 – Medical Language Interpreter Act (Chavez-Houck/Christensen): Introduced voluntarycertification of medical interpreters through the State’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.
SJSSJR001 – Renewable Energy System (Jones/Chavez-Houck): Directed the State Energy Program to assess the need for and to develop model wind, solar, and geothermal ordinances at the local government level.
SJR004 – Recycling of Electronic Waste Joint Resolution (McCoy/Chavez-Houck): Urged the Utah Department of Environmental Quality to work with the Recycling Coalition of Utah to develop recommendations for addressing electronic waste. Recommendations were incorporated this year into a bill, sponsored by Rep. Becky Edwards (R- Davis County) which would have required manufacturers to include recycling costs in the purchase price of electronic items.