March 27, 2020
The last few weeks have been challenging. Like you, we are working from home, worrying about our families, and – through it all – watching how remarkable and resilient the people of Utah and the nation are.
We continue to work hard on our focus areas: religious freedom, history and civics prioritization, ongoing tax reform study, and what states can do to manage and bring transparency to health care – beginning with prescription drug pricing. Each of these areas takes on new significance given COVID-19.
The Sutherland team was active throughout the 2020 legislative session and continues to watch priority policy areas, including education. An example is the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship program, which provides parents of children with special needs with scholarship funds to access a wider range of educational options including tuition, educational therapy, textbooks, exams and more. Sutherland published this FAQ to help guide the discussion with fact, rather than fear and semantics.
We also provided key research and perspective on legislative efforts to protect donor privacy. There are troubling national efforts to force disclosures of donations and use of proceeds by nonprofit organizations, that in reality threaten both privacy and religious freedom. This video link explains how 26 states, so far, have allowed privacy legislation that threatens to silence many personal beliefs. Sutherland will maintain its focus on this important policy area.
Speaking of religious freedom, a recent event – which has proven to be our last one for a while – brought a delegation of political and religious leaders from Azerbaijan to Utah. Together we examined the process and challenges of an emerging democracy committed to religious freedom and multiculturalism above tolerance. It was both an informative policy study and the right thing to do.
And of course, we are – along with every Utahn— both living and studying the impact of COVID-19 and the implications of government response. From the Supreme Court to various policy responses and our understanding of how and where government should respond, we will keep you current on the policy aspects of this health crisis.
Crisis does not sideline an organization like Sutherland – it increases the importance and urgency of our work. We are here to bring conservative principles to the table and to guard your faith, family and the free market.
We know times are uncertain, but we are confident in the people of this state and nation. If you can invest in this work, your support is needed now more than ever. But if not, know that we appreciate your efforts to engage, share this content with your family and neighbors, and continue to live out the principles that make us free.
All the best,
Rick B. Larsen
President and CEO
Caring for children and families in vulnerable situations is an undoubted public priority, and everyone willing to provide good-faith help is needed.
The year 2021 has started fast and furious in the political space. Rioting at the U.S. Capitol and the banning of our president from certain big tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter have continued the national discussion about speech and ideas.
Ensuring that Utah civics education is adequate will take a statewide commitment from more than just the Legislature (and it’s usually better when it comes from more local decisionmakers), and it will demand that we avoid simplistic solutions about teachers or schools simply needing to “do better.”