Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

GOVERNOR'S COMMISSION FOR WOMEN AND FAMILIES

Agency History #1760

CREATION

The Governor's Commission for Women and Families, originally organized as the Governor's Advisory Committee on Women's Programs, was created May 6, 1968, by executive order of Governor Calvin L. Rampton. The purpose of the present-day commission is to protect the rights of women and families in Utah.

Since its inception as the Governor's Advisory Committee on Women's Programs (1968-1970), the organization has also been known as the Governor's Committee on the Status of Women (1970-1973), and the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women (1973-1990). The legislature approved the current name in 1990.

FUNCTIONS

In the executive order creating the committee, Governor Rampton specified the following duties: confer with and advise the governor and heads of various state departments regarding the planning of programs of particular concern to women and establish liaison between the governor and national organizations on the status of women and to represent the governor at meetings of such organizations. The committee was further empowered to collect and assemble information from various state and local governments which would be helpful in carrying out its duties.

The enabling act passed by the 40th Legislature authorized the commission to: (a) confer with and advise the governor and heads of various state departments regarding discriminatory legislation and practices, and the planning of programs of particular concern to women; (b) serve as a clearinghouse for coordination and evaluation of programs, services and legislation affecting women; (c) receive and refer complaints concerning alleged violation of women's rights and responsibilities and if necessary report such action to the governor; (d) conduct studies, workshops, or fact-finding hearings to develop recommendations for constructive action in all areas of interest to women; (e) conduct or participate in educational programs concerning issues of importance to women and families; (f) encourage community organizations and state and local units of government to institute activities designated to meet women's needs; (g) participate in gaining support of changes deemed necessary through the development of legislation and community education; and (h) establish a liaison between the governor and national advisory organizations on the status of women, and represent the governor and the state at meetings of such national organizations.

It was subsequently authorized to produce position papers on issues relating to the concerns of women and in 1989 began working with the state's newly created Women's Economic Development Bureau (#1636). Amendments made in 1990 enlarged the commission's scope of duties to include families and made minor technical corrections.

The enabling act authorizes the commission to receive and accept federal funds, private gifts, donations, or funds from any source. All moneys are to be deposited with the state and are to be continuously available to the commission to carry out the purposes of the act.

ADMINISTRATION

The commission currently consists of 19 members appointed by the Governor for overlapping terms of four years. Members may serve two consecutive appointments. No more than 10 members may belong to the same political party. Qualifications specify that members shall be appointed from persons with a demonstrated record of leadership and involvement, and a willingness to make a commitment to the furtherance of the purposes of the commission. The commission may make recommendations to the governor concerning appointment of members.

A chairman elected by the commission members presides over the commission (before the committee achieved statutory status, the chairman was appointed by the governor). The chairman may also appoint such other officers from its membership as is deemed necessary. The commission is to meet regularly and may hold special meetings at the request of the chairman or the governor. Members may enact bylaws and rules to govern the commission.

The commission may appoint a qualified administrative assistant to facilitate the efficient performance of it's prescribed duties. That person may appoint such other personnel as the commission determines to be necessary.

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

The permanent Governor's Advisory Committee on Women's Programs established in 1968 succeeded the informal Governor's Committee on the Status of Women in Utah (Agency #1140, 1964-1966). Governor Rampton officially created the new 12-member advisory committee by executive order. Membership was limited to "women who have been active in community and state affairs and who . . . are knowledgeable regarding the development and furtherance of those programs in state and local government which are primarily concerned with the welfare of women within the state." An amended executive order signed September 18, 1970, changed the name to the Governor's Committee on the Status of Women and authorized up to 15 commissioners. Unfunded by the state, the committee functioned with assistance and financial support of women's organizations.

The Governor's Commission on the Status of Women was statutorily established by the 40th State Legislature in March 1973. All committee members submitted a letter of resignation as a group "to affirm [the Governor's] absolute, unemcumbered option in the selection of members to the commission." Nine committee members were reappointed to the new commission. Given an appropriation from the legislature, the new bipartisan commission established a small office in the state capitol and employed a full-time coordinator.

Although the newly passed statute opened membership to "persons with a demonstrated record of leadership and involvement, and a willingness to make a commitment to the furtherance of the purposes of the commission," the first men weren't appointed until 1977.

In making a second appropriation in 1977, legislators encouraged the commission to "represent a broader spectrum of women in Utah and confine its activities to those defined in the enacting statutes." In rescinding further funding in 1978, the legislature stated its "intent that there should be created a Commission on the Status of Family." (A bill to create a Commission on the Status of Families was introduced late in the 1978 budget session but was not passed.) The commission received no further state funds until 1989.

The legislature in 1990 enlarged the commission's scope of activities to include families, renaming it the Governor's Commission for Women and Families.

Standing subcommittees for bylaws, legislation, nominating, public relations, and budget/funding are organized as are numerous special committees.

COMMITTEE DIRECTORS

Alison C. Thorne, 1968-1969

Barbara Burnett, 1969-1972

Beth Gurrister, 1972-1973

COMMISSION DIRECTORS

Beth Gurrister, 1973-1977

Eleanor Smith Lewis, 1977-1978

Mary L. Olsen, 1978-1979

Ione Johnson Simpson, 1979-1981

Ruth Hardy Funk, 1981-1985

Kathleen Criddle Mason, 1986-present

PRIOR NAMES

Governor's Advisory Committee on Women's Programs, 1968-1970 (name changed)

Governor's Committee on the Status of Women, 1970-1973 (superseded by statutorily created commission below)

Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, 1973-1990 (name changed)

Governor's Commission for Women and Families, 1990-present

COMPILED BY: W. Glen Fairclough, Jr., June 1990

SOURCES

Governor's Executive Orders, May 6, 1968.

Governor's Executive Orders, Sept. 18, 1970.

Laws of Utah, 1973, (Chapter 173), Commission established.

Laws of Utah, 1977, (Chapter 286, Item 14), Encouraged to represent a broader spectrum of women in Utah.

Laws of Utah, 1978, (Chapter 39, Items 13 and 14), Funding rescinded.

Laws of Utah, 1989, Second Special Session, supplemental appropriations act (Chapter 6, item 1), appropriation granted (S.B. No. 5).

Laws of Utah, 1990, (Chapter 158), renamed, scope of duties enlarged (H.B. No. 206).

"Mini History of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women," in Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 5, October 1973.

Olsen, Mary L., telephone conversation on 14 March 1990.

Reporter, The, Vol. I, No. 1, September 1988.

Simpson, Ione J., telephone conversations on March 16 and 19, 1990.

State and Local Government in Utah (Salt Lake City: Utah Foundation, 1973 and 1979).

Utah Code, Title 63, Chapter 47.