Utah Gov. Spencer Cox outlined his priorities, including expanding funding for public education and infrastructure, during his first State of the State address Thursday evening.
The Republican governor delivered his virtual address in the House chamber of the state’s Capitol. The new governor said he significantly shortened his speech to about 15 minutes to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus for the few lawmakers and reporters who attended in person.
Cox lauded recent economic successes but said the state needs to address educational inequities, specifically for children in rural Utah and communities of color, to disrupt intergenerational poverty in the state.
Republican lawmakers in several more states want to loosen gun restrictions by allowing people to carry concealed firearms without having to get a permit, continuing a trend that gun control advocates call dangerous.
Fifteen states already allow concealed carry without a permit, and lawmakers in nine others have proposed allowing or expanding the practice. GOP governors are backing the changes in Utah and Tennessee. Another bill expanding permitless carry in Montana has passed the state House.
Most states require people to do things like undergo weapons training and a background check to get a permit to carry a gun hidden by a jacket or inside a purse. Groups like the National Rifle Association and state lawmakers who support gun rights argue those requirements are ineffective and undermine Second Amendment protections.
Utah’s legislative body convened for the start of the 2021 Legislative Session on Jan. 19.
The meeting was one that reflected the newfound changes that many are still navigating in the COVID-19 pandemic. Each legislator was masked and tested before the meeting, ensuring everyone’s safety.
The meeting was different from others in a pre-pandemic world but still remained familiar to many. Many legislators took their oath of office to begin serving new terms, as well as introducing their own bills onto the floor. These bills dealt with a plethora of issues including tax cuts and COVID-19 relief.
President Joe Biden revoked a recent Trump administration report that aimed to promote “patriotic education” in schools but that historians mocked and rejected as political propaganda.
In an executive order signed on Wednesday in his first day in office, Biden disbanded Donald Trump’s presidential 1776 Commission and withdrew a report it released Monday. Trump established the group in September to rally support from white voters and as a response to The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which highlights the lasting consequences of slavery in America.
In its report, which Trump hoped would be used in classrooms across the nation, the commission glorifies the country’s founders, plays down America’s role in slavery, condemns the rise of progressive politics and argues that the civil rights movement ran afoul of the “lofty ideals” espoused by the Founding Fathers.