During Utah’s 2018 Legislative Session, Southern Utah University student MacKenzie Maness, a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, worked closely with Senator Evan Vickers to develop and pass a bill regarding the protection of dark skies.
The bill encourages the use of shielded light fixtures as a means of reducing light pollution, which is the artificial brightening of the night sky due to light that escapes from poorly designed light fixtures. The bill addresses the problems associated with light pollution including disruption of human and animal sleep cycles, inefficient energy use, and negatively impacting astronomical research.
Having participated in the Utah Intercollegiate Legislature last year, Maness had previously developed a version of the bill. In the Fall of 2017, she showed the bill to Senator Vickers who worked alongside a drafting attorney to take the language she wrote and draft a resolution. As an intern at the state capitol, she was part of the committee hearings and followed her bill throughout the legislative process.
“I created this bill because I want to see Utah grow sustainably,” said Maness. “By drawing attention to this issue as a state, we can plan for future growth while still maintaining the luxury of our nighttime skies. My opportunity to be immersed in the tourism industry helped me understand that the stars are a valuable resource.”
Internships at the Utah State Legislature provide a very hands on opportunity to be involved in the legislative process. As state legislators have no full-time staff, they rely heavily on their interns.
“Representative Francis Gibson, the House Majority Whip, relied fully upon me to handle his schedule, newsletter, and assigned tasks,” said Maness. “Every day, I sat on the House chamber floor with him, attended his meetings with lobbyists, and tracked his bills. I was not just an intern; I was directly part of the legislative process.”
The bill, officially named Senate Concurrent Resolution 2, passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting a signature from Governor Herbert.
Learn more about internship opportunities through the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service.