Today we began what will be our last three days of the legislative session. We debated solely Senate bills in the House for close to 8 hours. As the House sponsor of SB 194, “Medical Waste Incineration Prohibition,” whose Senate sponsor is Sen. Todd Weiler, I presented the bill on the House floor this afternoon and it passed. This bill is a complement to HJR 8, which we passed last week, which authorizes the move of Stericycle, a medical waste incineration facility operating currently in North Salt Lake, and moving to the Grantsville area in Tooele County. SB 196 states that at the time of siting any new medical waste facility that incinerates infectious waste or chemotherapeutic agents must be in a location further than a two mile radius from an existing residential area in order to receive a permit for construction. The city the facility is locating to is not prohibited from making zoning decisions and/or changes after the initial siting. It was interesting to see how many of my colleagues from areas all across the state were aware of the Stericycle/North Salt Lake issue. Everyone is anxious to help in Stericycle’s transition to their new site in Tooele County. I am hoping Stericycle can continue to operate safely and provide the valuable service of medical waste disposal for our state. I just want them to provide that valuable service 35 miles west of Grantsville in Tooele County, not in North Salt Lake.
All the final budget bills are out. This is what over 250 pages of budget bills looks like.
As part of the budget process many items receive funding separate from being attached to a piece of legislation. I was involved in two such requests for appropriations this legislative session and I have good news on both fronts.
First, we fought hard for a $300,000 appropriation for the North Salt Lake landslide mitigation project. This money would complete the final stage of hillside stabilization through an engineered removal of the underground water source. It joins forces with the funds that have already been expended solely on the relocation of the families in the 18 demolished homes who fell victim to the landslide. Those funds came from the following sources: $1.4Million of federal funds, $700K of funding from NSL City, and $120K of private donations. The $300,000 one-time appropriation which is now included in the budget is a real boon for the residents of North Salt Lake.
Also, $100,000 was appropriated for post-secondary education and vocational training through the Utah College of Applied Technology and will go towards scholarships for individuals with intellectual disabilities. We know these individuals prove themselves to be valuable employees in many settings and with increased access to post-secondary education their opportunities are expanded significantly. In addition to scholarships the appropriation will also go towards curriculum modifications specific to the unique needs of this student population. The open curriculum, affordability, and flexibility of the UCAT statewide system is a model that is ready to increase access for people with intellectual disabilities.
People who have the advantage of post-secondary education and vocational training increase their income, enjoy overall improved health, and they add to Utah’s economic strength by paying taxes. This is especially true for people with intellectual disabilities. However, people with intellectual disabilities face more barriers to accessing educational opportunities. I was happy to work on this bill with individuals from the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council, who will serve in an advisory and resource role in the grant application process, assisting with curriculum modification, and providing support. on this appropriation and a separate bill regarding workers’ compensation for people working in this field. This $100,000 appropriation is a big move forward for these individuals.
If you’ve read this far, you deserve to know what the “brouhaha” is for in the title for todays post. Well, brouhaha is by definition an “excited public interest, discussion, or the like, as the clamor attending some sensational event; hullabaloo.” Nothing could be closer to what these last few days are like. Including the fate of four of my bills in the Senate. Stay tuned!