With the 2017 legislative session and we’re heavily engaged on Capitol Hill creating public policies that will support the needs of survivors of sexual violence. For the month, we have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with advocates, families, and communities to support public policies to eliminate and intervene in sexual violence in our communities. We have had some success and some defeats but one thing is clear, we are making progress on Capitol Hill.
As the Executive Director at UCASA, my responsibilities include building a strong foundation for a vibrant and relevant coalition capable of supporting important legislation dedicated to create better responses to sexual violence and preventing it from occurring in our community.
I want to provide some reassurance to those of you out there who are concerned about national political and legislative developments. We will always be here; our work continues and we remain as optimistic about a future free from sexual violence as we have ever been. In fact, our work is growing and our organization is expanding to meet the needs of our communities. Utah is taking proactive steps to support the needs of every survivor and create public policies to ensure justice to every survivor.
Our future is bright and our work is inspiring and filled with hope. In order to create a more effective system to serve survivors we are enhancing our legislative efforts. I’m very pleased to announce several endeavors that UCASA will be undertaking to improve our public policy capabilities. Here is just a sampling of the incredible new endeavors that I am pleased to share with you:
- We have launched a new Legislative Action Center which allows our members and supporters to see what legislation we’re tracking and take action to support or oppose it. Our Legislative Committee meets on a near-daily basis during the session to evaluate legislation and help formulate policy positions. We compile a list of bills to track that directly or indirectly impact our work. We will keep you updated on all legislation affecting sexual violence during the 45-day session. We will be updating the status of bills regularly and keep this webpage as updated as possible. For real time updates, follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our email newsletter. If you have an interest in a bill not on our tracking list and would like to bring it to our attention, please contact us. During the beginning of the session, many requested bills will be in "Boxcar" status, meaning the language is still being drafted. As those bills are numbered and introduced, we will review and formulate positions on those bills and add them to our tracking list. Visit our Legislative Action Center by clicking here.
- Public policy has always been an important piece of the work that we do and we’re taking that commitment to the next level. We’re taking a leap as the first coalition in the nation to establish a 501c4 organization to further our legislative efforts. This new organization will be governed by our Board of Directors and staffed by our existing staff and it will allow us to further our goals of creating and implementing public policies and laws designed to assist survivors.
- We’re requested $750,000 to prevent and intervene in sexual violence throughout the state. This funding is a continuation of the $600,000 in funding we received from the legislature last year and would support the work of organizations across the state.
This is only a small portion of what we are doing to change public policies and laws. Our work is powered by our membership program. Join us on the next step of our journey by becoming a member of our newly formed Vanguard Network. By making a monthly membership payment to UCASA you are joining the local movement to end sexual violence. Our members include community leaders with a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and experience working to combat sexual violence-related issues.
I invite you to visit UCASA’s new website often. It will be constantly updated with important information regarding our work. Take a moment to visit UCASA.org and sign up for our monthly newsletter for more information.
Thank you for your support,
Turner C. Bitton