Lawmakers from separate parties and different chambers are finding synergy in moving anti-bullying and anti-suicide legislation during the session. Democratic Senator Luz Robles and Republican Representative Gage Froerer say when they found out they were working individually on the same thing they decided to team up. Froerer says HB-134 is a statewide effort to make a dent in the epidemic of teen suicides as well as bullying in our schools.
“It’s interesting that these two bills started out on separate paths, separate chambers, separate parties and yet we’ve come together on the main issue which is to protect our children of this state,”says Froerer.
Senator Robles says her SB-184 has the same goal but focuses more on suicide prevention with a plan of action involving everyone concerned.
“This is really what these two bills are about is notification so there’s a conversation, so there is an interaction between the school and parents, so there’s a plan to help the children,”says Robles.
Republican Representative Steve Eliason (pronounced EE luh son) is also working on a suicide prevention bill, HB-154, which calls for a full time head of a suicide prevent program in Utah, which doesn’t exist.
"Everyday there’s two or three students admitted to emergency departments for attempted suicides yet in the state there’s not one fulltime person devoted to managing this silent epidemic,”says Eliason.
Eliason says he also supports these similar bills and hopes partisan politics doesn’t get in the way this legislation. Froerer says his bill is being held in committee for minor changes. SB 184 from Robles is still being considered in the Senate. Eliason's Suicide Program bill was introduced in the House Thursday.