• Conservative Leadership in Senate District 8

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.

Shift from ‘Patient’ to ‘Consumer’ in Healthcare.

From patient to consumer. That's the catch phrase for medicine in the future. More and more people are becoming consumers in healthcare. And what does consumer truly mean? It means that you are in the center of the decision making for your healthcare dollar. There's going to be a lot more infrastructure, and information technology, and innovation. In this article that I read, we are going to digital and we are going to lower acuity settings. Now what does that mean? So digital means basically you're gonna have a sore throat, if you can imagine.

You're gonna type in how long you've been sick, the color of your throat, and your fever or your temperature, and you'll press on this app and the app will say, "Looks like you need penicillin. "Get your prescription." They'll be an app for so much of healthcare that hasn't been available up until now. And lower acuity settings means that when you have a serious health condition, you will be directed perhaps to an urgent care center or a cheaper location to get your healthcare needs met, rather than going to the emergency room. And as you know, emergency room expenses are astronomical. Other things about innovation. Innovation means that we do things differently and we do things a new way, and we opt to do it cheaper. And that's certainly happening in healthcare.

And, as you know, with all of our healthcare dollars currently being spent for increased deductibles and out of pocket expenses, we want to get good value for our healthcare dollar. Amazon is in the marketplace, and as most of you know, Amazon is an innovator. And so since they're involved in the marketplace, you know they're gonna be trying new things and that's gonna be good for consumers and for people that are spending their healthcare dollars. What is the biggest threat and challenge to innovation in the healthcare sector right now? It's culture. People don't like change. And you have to have leaders that are willing to try new things and experiment with new ways of doing things, because I believe there is always a better way. How can the government be involved with encouraging innovation? We need to make sure that we're having financial carrots to those that are experimenting in innovation. And I was very encouraged to see people want to see public private partnerships being involved with innovation and with decreasing costs. So healthcare systems must be looking to their customers. We are the customers. People in my office are the customers. We as taxpayers are customers. And we want to make sure we're getting good value. So I'm encouraged by some of the changes that are going on in healthcare and as a Senator and a physician and someone that wants to use a wise use of our resources, I'm looking forward to continuing serving as your Senator for District Eight. This is Brian Zehnder, I approve this message, and have a wonderful day. Take care, bye, bye.

Our children deserve safety at their schools. Changes are coming!

Well, hi there. This is Senator Brian Zehnder. I wanted to give you an update on some of the nice things that are happening in our schools to improve our safety for our children. As we all know, our children are truly indeed the future leaders of tomorrow. And I wanna give you just a brief update on some things I've read recently about some enhancements for our schools. First of all, there's going to be additional training this next year for many of our school districts. Training and more training. First of all, there'll be training on for the teachers and support staff on how to respond to a true emergency. So there's been a lot of investment in that during this summer. Second, there'll be a lot of training going on with regards to how to look for at-risk situations within our youth that may cause them to be sad, or angry, or a tendency to lash out. Many of you are familiar with the SafeUT app by now, which is an anonymous way that you can give information to a crisis counselor about a child that might be at risk for suicide. And many of the same issues with regards to suicide can also lead to violence at schools. Another thing that's being done is a what they call Run, Hide, and Fight sequence. And so when there is a situation, the first training method would be to run from the scene. The second thing would be to hide if at all possible. And then, finally, would be to fight an intruder. So training is very important.

Second thing is that many of the schools are having some redesign work done. In the elementary and the middle schools, for example, security cameras and doorbells are being placed to enhance the security in having one particular area only where people can get in. That process will take time and eventually that will also apply to other schools as well. But it's an encouragement as well, to enhance the safety for our schools. And, finally, there's a new app, which is kind of a neat app. It's called the Duress app. And this an app that principals, teachers, counselors, janitorial staff, they will all have access to that app. And so if there is a lockdown or an emergency, if that is called, then everyone will know real-time when that occurs. And so the communication will be so much better enhanced for those of us taking care of our children in school. So more training is coming, or has been coming, redesign of the schools, and additional communication and apps. So it's an exciting time I encouraged. And if you have any questions about any of these things, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. This is Brian Zehnder signing off for now, until next time. Have a wonderful week. Take care. Bye, bye.

Senator Zehnder visits Midvale Senior Center


-[Sen. Brian] Well, good morning everyone.

- [Sen. Brian] This is Senator Brian Zehnder and I'm here with Ken Donarski this morning. Ken is the manager for the Midvale Senior Center, and I was coming out today to visit with him and I say I need to get the word out about the Midvale Senior Center to our community because there are people here in Midvale that don't know a whole lot about it. So, Ken, tell me a little about yourself and about the center.

- [Ken Donarski] Well, I'm originally from Minnesota, in case you didn't notice the accent. So, I've lived here for twenty some years.

- [Sen. Brian] Okay.

- [Ken Donarski] And I've been active with Aging Services as part of the county for sixteen years.

- [Ken Donarski] Okay And I started at Taylorsville Senior Center. I opened that senior center.

- [Sen. Brian] Okay

- [Ken Donarski] Then I moved to Sandy, was there for five plus years.

- [Ken Donarski] And now we've got this one that's been going for about three years now, right?

- [Ken Donarski] This one, this building is three years old. The original one started back in '79 and it's in the park.

- [Sen. Brian] Okay, so what's special about this building?

- [Ken Donarski] Oh, this building is fabulous.

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July 2018 Special Session Recap

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On Monday, July 16, 2018 Governor Herbert called the legislature into a “Special Session.” Article VII, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Utah provides that the Governor may convene the Legislature into Special Session. The Governor only calls for a special session on urgent matters that require the legislature to take action.

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GAGs (Golden-Aged Guys)


- [Sen. Brian] Well, hi, everyone. This is Senator Brian Zehnder. And joined with me today is Wally Brown. And I wanted to just introduce Wally to you. I happened to be at a breakfast this morning, and with a bunch of people, and they call themselves the group of the GAGs, I guess. And I'm trying to get to know more people in our community. And Wally, tell me about the group.

- [Wally] Well, GAGs is just an acronym for Golden-Aged Guys.

- [Sen. Brian] Golden-Aged Guys, okay.

- [Wally] And several years ago one of our neighbors here who is now passed on, a really fine leader, he had this idea of anyone we could get in the neighborhood who was interested meet together once a month. We started out just giving our own bios so that we got better acquainted.

- [Sen. Brian] So just people in the community getting together once a month to learn about what's goin on in Cottonwood Heights and in this area, and how we can support each other, and kind of give back to the community. And I said when I was there at breakfast this morning, I said, they were asking me, you were asking me about the things that I'm really passionate about. And I said, well, education is also always really important to me. And we were talking a little bit about literacy. And I said, did you know that if children aren't reading at the third grade level by the time they're in third grade they're four times more likely not to graduate from high school. And 50% of our current Utah students are in that category. And you said, well, let me tell you what we've been doing for the last number of years.

- [Wally] Yeah.

- [Sen. Brian] So tell me about your program.

- [Wally] It's been about eight years that we've been doing this. I was in a position where I actually started this dictionary project all over Utah through the Rotary Clubs. And then that sort of segued into, because the folks in GAGs here knew that I was doing that. Then they said,

- [Sen. Brian] So this is a dictionary project. What do you mean? This is the dictionary, but what do you do with these dictionaries?

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Senator Zehnder: Washington DC


Well, hi, this is Brian Zehnder, your current Utah state senator. I wanted to highlight three things that I was able to do in our nation's capital the last 30 hours or so, flying in and being able to visit, first of all, with the Secretary for the Health and Human Services, as well as the administrator for the centers for Medicaid and Medicare services, two people that have a lot to do with health care in our country, with the governor and Representative Spendlove, and just to deal with some meaningful healthcare legislation for our state. Second, I was able to go for a run and a tour of the memorials in Washington, D.C. If you've never been there, it's just an incredible experience going to the Korean War Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial.

I was truly struck by the service and the commitment to the people that have served our country in so many meaningful ways and I think it's incredible that we honor them in the way that we have in our nation's capital. And third, we were able to go to, a part of a delegation from Utah went to a conference. It was a White House conference by many of our senior federal government officials. It was truly an amazing experience. These were some of the things that they said. How do we empower state and local officials more? We need to free entrepreneurs from over-litigation, over-regulation, and over-taxation. They were very encouraging. Apparently, this is one of the initiatives.

It's not something that they've done often with other states. Utah and Idaho were invited to attend, and they plan on doing this with other states as well because they really want to see us, as Utah, make Utah decisions to the extent that that's possible. So it was a very encouraging visit, meeting with members of the Department of Energy, senators, and other government officials. It was really enjoyable, very learning, educational opportunity, and things that I hope I can continue to apply as your current and, hopefully reelected, Utah state senator.

Well, thanks again for tuning in. More to come as I talk about other issues that are coming up. Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you so much. Take care. Bye bye.

Senator Zehnder: Interim Session Update


Well hi. This is Brian Zehnder, your current Utah state senator. I wanted to let you know a little bit about what I've been doing the last couple days. In addition to knocking on doors, I was actually up at the legislature yesterday and today. We have what's called interim meetings during the summertime where we get together every month to work on things that might be important for us next year to pass into law. So, many of you know that I'm on the Social Services Committee and the Health and Human Services Task Force. 

So I just thought I'd tell you a little bit about what I've done the last couple days. Yesterday we started our meeting actually with the Columbus Community Health Center and this is a non-profit organization that helps adults with disabilities work in society and be as independent as they can. One of the real neat things about this organization is that they receive funding for support, but they actually turn that funding into a return on investment. And they're mostly self-sufficient so that the people that work there earn a wage, are able to pay for their housing, and they're contributing to society and it's a great way for that organization to be successful. 

They actually broke ground on a new building last week and I was very pleased to be able to help support that organization in last year's funding in Social Services. Another thing that we heard yesterday was a report from The Road Home. There was an audit that was done recently. Any time you hear of an audit you start to shudder as to what did I do wrong? And, just like any other organization, The Road Home has some things that they're gonna be working on. They have some policies and procedures in place to take care of people that are homeless so that they could have a place to sleep at night. But sometimes, people that wind up staying there are using drugs or doing other things that make it unsafe for others. And so the audit, I kind of showed the people in charge that some things need to change.

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