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AG Reyes applauds passing of First Step Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 18, 2018

 

AG REYES APPLAUDS SENATE PASSING THE FIRST STEP ACT

SALT LAKE CITY – As the vote count was announced that the First Step Act had passed through the U.S. Senate and was headed to the U.S. House of Representatives, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes stated the following: 

This is a big win for the Trump Administration, for justice reform leaders like our own Senator Mike Lee, and most importantly, for the American people. 
 
Allowing more discretion in sentencing empowers judges and the system to personalize the punishment to the crime. Giving inmates who meet strict criteria a chance at redemption and an opportunity to become productive citizens benefits all of us. Not only does it reduce an overcrowded prison population, it provides a workforce eager to contribute to society. 
 
I’ve been honored to work over the past year with the White House, Senator Lee and other leaders to get this bill passed. As a former co-chair of the Civil Rights Committee for the National Association of Attorneys General, and in various positions over a decade before that, I have advocated for reform to our criminal justice system; a system that disproportionately affects minority communities and inflexibly captures certain individuals who may not deserve to be there in the first place. 
 
Again, I applaud the U.S. Senate’s approval of the historic ’First Step Act.’ But this legislation is just that – a first step. I will continue my work with Utah leaders and attorneys general from other states to expand reform beyond just the federal system in order to reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars, provide treatment for mental health and substance abuse and providing some nonviolent offenders a second chance. We can find these humane and balanced solutions while still aggressively protecting Utahns from violent crime and keeping our communities safe. 
 
The bi-partisan political support for this bill along with diverse buy-in from groups such as law enforcement, civil rights leaders and academics speaks to the need for such reform. 
 
 

Photo by Hédi Benyounes

Utah Opioid Task Force focuses on what’s next

December 5, 2018

The Utah Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by Senator Mike Lee, DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser, and Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, had its quarterly meeting to discuss several topics for next steps following the Utah Solutions Summit, which focused on the opioid crisis in the state of Utah. Here’s a brief recap. 

  • Opioid Summit Report: Attendance surpassed expectations. The goal was to reach 5,000 between the morning session geared toward students and the afternoon spent resourcing the community. In reality, over 9,000 students and community members showed up and participated in the event. The big takeaway from the Summit was the powerful impact it had on the students in attendance. Many students download both the SafeUT App and the FENDMovement App – each of which has proven effective in students with helpful resources.
  • Dr. Eric Garland from the University of Utah College of Social Work spoke on mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement (MORE). The research and evidence on this are showing remarkable results. It shows one can reduce the physiological response to opioid addiction, which is a huge answer for those who are suffering.
  • Gary Tennis, President of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL), provided a great perspective on national drug laws and included information regarding police-assisted recovery from opioid addiction. 
  • Chief Tom Ross, of the Bountiful Police Department, spoke about what police deal with on the streets. A pilot program is being developed to create options for addicts to go to the intensive treatment programs in lieu of criminal charges. This is a course of action the AG’s office has been assisting with and promoting.

Following the meeting, Assistant AG Scott Reed, Coordinator of the Utah Opioid Task Force, took time to share with KSL-TV about the success of Solutions Summit. You can watch the interview below.

 

Solutions Summit a Success

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2018

 

UTAH OPIOID SOLUTIONS SUMMIT A SUCCESS
 
SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the co-chairs of the Utah Opioid Task Force hosted the 5th Annual Solutions Summit: Instead – Connecting for a Cure. Over 5,000 students, educators, healthcare officials, and community members were in attendance at the event presented by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, DEA 360 Program Director Brian Besser, and others.
 
The summit, which was held in two parts, focused on combatting the opioid epidemic in the state of Utah.
 
The morning session was created with the intent to educate high schoolers on the dangers of opioid use and give them real-time resources to stop addiction before it starts. Students enjoyed musical numbers, educational videos, and stories from families who had lost loved ones to the crisis.
 
The general session, which was held in the afternoon, focused on enabling communication and support across the various communities involved in combating the crisis.
 
While the co-chairs were pleased with the success of the summit, they stressed the importance of continuing this effort beyond today’s events. “The way we keep the momentum going is by connecting to the communities,” DEA District Agent in Charge for the State of Utah Brian Besser said. “We are wearing our tires out traveling around the state. We spend most of our time finding those who are hardest hit, listening, and learning how we can help.” 

The Utah Solutions Summit was made possible by the following partnerships: US Senator Mike Lee, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, Utah Opioid Task Force, DEA 360 Strategy, Sutherland Institute, Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition, The 525 Foundation, Salt Lake Chamber, and the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation

# # # 

 NOTES:

  1. Find more information about the Summit and program here: utahsolutionssummit.com. 

 

UPDATED 10/14/18

Missed the Summit? You can still participate by watching the Livestream here: 

Fox 13 Live did a great piece on the Summit, which you can view here: 

Find additional coverage of the Utah Solutions Summit below: 

Fox13: Utah teens converge on Vivint Smart Home Arena to join the fight against Opioids

Good4Utah.com: Utah’s apparent solution to opioid crisis going national

Deseret News Utah:  At the Utah Solutions Summit, the message to Utah youths was clear: Don’t die for a high

KUTV: Utah Solutions Summit – Addressing Opioid Addiction in Utah

KSL-TV: Utah Solutions Summit Educates Students On Opioid Epidemic

 

 

Op Ed: The PURE Act would let Utahns govern Utah

By Sean D. Reyes
Utah Attorney General 

Few issues stir stronger passions among Utahns than the care and management of our public lands. That is why it is so important that all sides be as truthful as possible when debating this issue publicly. Unfortunately, many have resorted to misinformation and scare tactics in response to Sen. Mike Lee’s new Protect Utah’s Rural Economy Act.

To read some op-eds in local papers, you’d think Lee had proposed selling Zion National Park or Wasatch National Forest to oil companies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing in the PURE Act, or any other legislation Lee supports, would touch any of the national parks, national forests or national recreation areas in the state of Utah, or any other state for that matter.

Utah has a thriving outdoor recreation industry that depends on these federally operated lands, and no one wants to take them away.

So if everybody agrees that these parks, forests and recreation areas should be protected, then what is everyone so upset about?

What many people don’t realize is that the public lands that drive Utah’s outdoor recreation economy are just a small portion of all federal land in Utah. Of the 33.3 million acres owned by the federal government, just over 12 million of them are the parks, forests, wildernesses and recreation areas that thousands of Utahns, Americans, and people from around the world visit every year.

It is the rest of that federally owned land that the PURE Act would ensure works for all Utahns.

Agriculture is still big business in Utah, especially in Utah’s many rural communities, where ranching has been a way of life for generations. Unlike cattle operations in states like Wisconsin or Vermont, however, Utah ranchers don’t actually own the land their livestock graze on. The federal government does.

So when a president from a distant state who has never even been to a rural Utah community comes in and unilaterally designates a new national monument without any input from local communities, these generations-old ranching families are hardest hit.

Monument designations come with strict new rules on how these families can use and access the land they have been farming on for decades. Often these added rules layer on top of a network of laws and regulations that already adequately protect public lands. The result is not greater protections, but greater disruption of life. Old roads are closed. New improvements like fences or water management are forbidden.

Ranching on, or even near, lands declared a monument becomes much less productive. Farms shrink. Jobs disappear. Rural communities are forced to change — and not for the better.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can empower rural Utah communities and give them a voice in how the federal lands around them are used. And that is exactly what the PURE Act does.

The PURE Act requires the president of the United States to get authorization from Congress and the Utah Legislature before a new national monument can be created or an existing national monument expanded. By providing this protection, a protection similar to that enjoyed by Alaska and Wyoming, we can make sure the communities affected by monument designation have a voice in how the land around them is managed.

Utah has a remarkably diverse and dynamic economy that is changing every day. Outdoor recreation and tourism play a vital role in our economy, but so do farming and ranching. Change is never easy, but change can be particularly painful when it is forced on us by outsiders. We should be looking for solutions that empower local communities to give them as much control over their own destinies as possible.

The PURE Act does that. It lets Utahns govern Utah. And that is why I am proud to support it. 

This op-ed was originally published in the Salt Lake Tribune, August 26, 2018.

 

Photo by Alexandre Chambon 

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