• Conservative Leadership in Senate District 8

A number of people have asked where I stand on ballot initiatives

Well hi, it's Dr. Z. Brian Zehnder. Thought I'd give you a little bit of background on some of the ballot initiatives. I've had a number of people asking me about them. And we have so many on the ballot this year to talk about. Rarely do people in Utah have a opportunity to weigh in on so many decisions. I've decided to give you a brief summary of each item and my reasons for voting against it or for it. Of course, some of you may disagree with my decisions, and I'm glad we live in a country where it's okay to disagree without being disagreeable. And we may not agree on everything, but whatever our beliefs I hope we share them with our friends and neighbors in a way that is helpful without being partisan about it. So let's just dig into it real quick. 

Constitutional Amendment A, it's a straight forward and logical change to the Utah Constitution. Currently, Utah military service members qualify for a property tax exemption when they serve on active duty for at least 200 days in a calendar year. With the change, the service member will qualify for the property tax exemption if they serve at least 200 days in a continuous 365 day period and they don't necessarily have to be in the same calendar year. But, it must be within a continuous 356 day period. So I support this amendment. I think it's reasonable. 

Constitutional Amendment B. This amendment changes the Utah Constitution so that there's a property tax exemption on real property that the state or local government leases from a private owner. These are the only cases where the government entity pays a property tax directly. So it is not an exemption for the property owner. It just does not make sense to me to use tax money to pay taxes. This is exactly happens when the state is required to pay property taxes. I also support this amendment. 

Constitutional Amendment C. This one changes the Utah Constitution to allow the president of the Utah senate and the speaker of the house to convene the legislature into session under certain limited circumstances -- certain emergencies that they deem necessary. And, it seems like it's a reasonable idea. But, I have a sense that the reason this is on the ballot for you to consider is because the legislature was unhappy that the governor did not call a special session when Representative Chaffetz resigned from office. Overall, our process works pretty well. I think the process is working fine the way it is. 

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Interim Session

Transcript from October Interim Session update:

Well, hi everybody. This is Senator Brian Zehnder. I thought I would try something a little bit different today and tell you a little bit about the recent Interim Session Meeting that we had yesterday and today. Most of you know that we meet once or twice a month to talk about issues between the previous session, from January til March until next year. And so we work on issues during the course of the whole year and I'm very fortunate to be on a few committees, such as a Social Services Committee and the Health Reform Task Force Committee. And I'm also on the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice...

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Senator Zehnder's "Letter Home"

Transcript: Well, hi, it's Senator Zehnder, Dr. Z. I wanted to give you a brief update on activities that we accomplished in September of this year. We normally have a fair number of committee meetings up on the hill, but due to a legislative academy leadership meeting, we had just a few meetings. As you know, I'm the chairperson for the Retirement and Independent Entities Committee dealing with all the employees in our state. So we did have a meeting that talked about updating the benefit package and the wages for our salaried employees through the state of Utah.That was a half day session. 

Other things you might like to know, the opioid summit meeting is coming up on October 12th, and that is a full day event. The first half day is for the youth, and the second half day is for the adults and other people that are interested in combating the opioid crisis that I'm very pleased to be on the opioid task force this year.

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What's the Family Support Center and the Crisis Nursery in Midvale?

- Well, good morning, everyone. This is Senator Brian Zehnder, and I am out visiting today. And I happened to come across Jeff Bird, who's the executive director with the Family Support Center. And I said, Jeff, I wanna hear more about this wonderful opportunity for service here in Midvale and in our community. Would you mind spending a little time with me, and telling me a little bit about what the Family Support Center is, and in particular the Crisis Nursery? 'Cause we wanna get this word out. 

- Yeah, yeah, you bet. The Family Support Center is a local non-profit. We're celebrating 41 years in Salt Lake County, and we have a number of programs. The one that you mentioned, Senator, the Crisis Nursery, we've got three of 'em in the Valley, so, we've got one in Sugar House, one in West Valley, and then the one we're in today, in Midvale. And it's really just a place for overwhelmed parents, stressed-out parents, parents that need a break, parents that don't have other resources in the community to help watch their kids, we will take them, free of charge, and watch them, to make sure that their kids are safe, they have a good place to be, and it's really a child abuse prevention mechanism. - So wait a minute, if you're really having a difficult time, as a parent, and you're really afraid for your children, because you're struggling so much, there's some place you can go? - Absolutely, there's three places you can go, so-- 

- Three places you can go? - Yeah. Completely free of charge. We encourage parents to drop them off. We'll take care of 'em, we feed 'em, we play with them, we make sure they're safe and healthy. - [Brian] And there's no cost involved? - No cost at all. - [Brian] So, tell me about this one here in Midvale. 

- Yeah, so, we're right on Center Street, 777 West Center Street. It's our second-longest location. We can hold up to 12 kids at a time, and again, it's just a place where parents, if they're struggling, if they've got a court obligation, if they've got nobody else to watch their kids, we'll take 'em, and make sure that they're safe. 

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Principal Leavitt and Hillcrest High School

Transcription: 

- [Brian] Well good morning everyone. This is Brian Zehnder, current State Senator and very interested member of this community. And I'm with principal, Greg Leavitt, today, from Hillcrest High School.

- [Greg] Hello everybody.

- [Brian] And we're here to talk a little bit about the new high school. And I'm just looking at this beautiful picture, this rendition, and it's, uh it's just beautiful. And I wanna just, first of all just get to know Principal Leavitt a little bit. Greg tell me a little bit about yourself, and how long you been with the school.

- [Greg] You know this is my fourth year here. I started as a math teacher at Butler Middle School up in Cottonwood Heights where you live. And in the 1990s, and became an assistant principal, a counselor and pretty much landed here, and this is my fourth year.

- [Brian] Fourth year, okay, wonderful. And you're already embarking upon a pretty exciting project, coming along.

- [Greg] Yeah, yeah, it's a good project. I had the opportunity to work with at Draper Park. We built that from ground up. And so, this is second go around for me on building a school.

- [Brian] Second go around, okay. We're building a school

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LETTER HOME

Zehnder_Seated

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It has been a dry, hot summer and the fires keep burning. I’m so grateful for the brave women and men fighting to keep our state safe. They work to make our families and homes safe while we continue to lead our lives in a relatively normal fashion. Here on Capitol Hill last week, the legislature met for our interim session. Various committees convened to discuss the many issues facing our communities. Included here are a few of the points of discussion from those committee meetings.

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Interim Session Update

Hi there. Senator Brian Zehnder. Did you know that we meet every month for a couple days between January of last year and January of next year to discuss topics that are important to you and to the rest of our state? That's called interim session. So let me just tell you briefly what we covered on the interim session last month. Many of you have heard about Operation Rio Grande, which is currently the one year anniversary. And about 5,000 people that were struggling or having difficulties in the Rio Grande area have now gone through a three phase process, including safety, treatment for mental illness, and getting back into the workforce. So there's still more to do with Operation Rio Grande, but this is the one year anniversary. We talked about that a little bit in the interim session. It's clear that more work does need to be done. 

Second thing we talked about was the school accountability updates. And many of you may not know, but beginning this coming year we will have a benchmark approach rather than a comparative approach regarding school progress for our students. Which means a letter grade won't necessarily be forthcoming, but their progress will be available for review and that will be on the website. So more information on that. Refugee services. Did you know that we have 65,000 refugees living in Utah? And one of the things that I'm really proud of is that in Utah we also provide case management and integration services for people during their first two years as a refugee here in Utah. 

One of the more exciting things, of course I'm on the Health and Human Services Task Force, is what are we going to do if the initiative passes for medical marijuana in November? That is clearly a hot button topic. We had seven different agencies come and presented to our task force about some of things that we would need to change if the initiative passes. There is a lot of things that need to be done. Part of the problem is that medical marijuana, or marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, pharmacies can't be used for distribution, and there are other issues that we just have to work through if the initiative passes. So more to come on that, but we've been working hard on that issue even though it hasn't passed yet. 

And then, finally, I just wanted to make sure that you were aware that most of this information is on my website and I'd love to hear from you. And if you have any questions at all, my cell is 801-330-0380. You can reach me anytime by sending me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And I'll be sending you another update next month. So thanks for tuning in, more information on my webpage, and I look forward to further discussions. Have a great day and have a good summer. Bye, bye.

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