Governor Herbert’s 2016 Vetoes

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On March 30th Governor Herbert completed his action on the 453 bills passed during the 2016 Legislative Session.  Of those 453, Governor Herbert vetoed several bills and budget line items, and one bill passed without the Governor’s signature.  Gov. Herbert’s comments on his website regarding the vetoes are informative and he also provides a more in-depth explanation of each veto in this series of letters.

The vetoes of the 3 full bills and 7 line items within 3 separate appropriations bills include:

1. HB 258, Solid Waste Amendments

2. SB 87, Administrative Rulemaking Act Modifications

3. HB 377, Grandparent Rights Amendments

4. Parts of HB 2, New Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations Act (specifically item 111)

5. Parts of HB 3, Appropriations Adjustments (specifically items 31, 47, 52, 125, and 149)

6. Parts of SB 2, Public Education Budget Amendments (specifically item 6)

The following information provides an analysis of the specific items included in the veto associated with SB 2.  I sit on the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee with 19 other House and Senate members.  Our work this session centered around hearing expert testimony and analysis, conducting lengthy discussions, and making recommendations for the public education budget, including these recently vetoed line items.  Each item below received our collective support during the session.

*Thanks to the folks at senatesite.com for their compilation of the following information.

1. A cut of $1 m ongoing Education Funding to Electronic High School.

This appropriation would have discontinued the ongoing funding for Electronic High School. The program could have continued on a limited basis for one more year funded mainly with estimated balances of $693,300. During the 2016 interim, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee plans to conduct a study of the program.

2. An increase of $1.5 m ongoing Education Funding plus intent for an additional $0.5 m TANF for UPSTART.

This appropriation was for tuition subsidies so that the program could serve more children. UPSTART is designed to give Utah four-year-olds an individualized reading, mathematics, and science curriculum with a focus on reading using home-based educational technology. Currently, UPSTART is comprised of three software programs: Rusty and Rosy Learn with Me (reading, math, and science), the Waterford Assessments of Core Skills (testing; assesses children who do not know how to read), and Camp Consonant (reading). Children participate in the program the year before they attend kindergarten. Authorization for the $0.5 m TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families, a federal assistance program) portion was also provided in the DWS budget, so it is possible that that portion could continue. Estimates suggest the program will end FY 2016 with a nonlapsing balance of approximately $2.4 million. Board staff are reviewing the expenditure patterns of the program to determine if all balances will be used by the end of the contract in FY 2019.

3. An increase of 275,000 1x Education Funding for ProStart.

This appropriation request was titled ProStart – Teen Chef Masters, but included additional funding for the culinary arts program to provide training and certification for high school students. In the materials detailing this request, ProStart representatives requested $400,000 ongoing, which includes $225,000 for teacher supplies such as equipment and food for competition; $80,000 in administrative costs; $40,000 for student training, career fairs, competitions, and events; $35,000 for teacher training, scholarships, and professional development; and $20,000 for classroom resources. A total of $275,000 was appropriated by the Legislature without designation to which of the original intended uses identified above would receive the funding. The original request for appropriation for this item is $664,000 ongoing.

4. An increase of $500,000 ongoing Education Funding for Elementary Reading Assessment Tools.

This appropriation was for a statewide tool to administer the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) early literacy assessment. Currently, there are two providers who provide services to enhance usability of DIBELS data, e.g.: mechanized data collection, accessible data that teachers can drill down into as soon as the assessment is complete, and identification of relative strengths and weaknesses by teachers and administrators. This funding would have enabled all local education agencies in the state access to these types of tools. The funding was intended to provide access to either program by every school district and charter school in the state. The program is estimated to have approximately $1.4 m in nonlapsing balances at the end of FY 2016. With this level of funding, they could still allow universal access of LEAs and draw down the balances over time.

5. An increase of $3 m 1x Education Funding for K-3 Early Intervention.

This appropriation was to purchase statewide software contract licenses to address early reading learning for a second year. The funding for software licenses was first provided in FY 2016 with a one-time appropriation of $3.0 million. There are currently five software programs being used for early reading intervention: i-Ready, Imagine Learning, lstation, SuccessMaker, and Waterford ERP. Schools can choose the vendor with whom they want to work. The majority of schools use Imagine Learning which served about 38 percent of the students in the early intervention program in the 2014-2015 school year. The second most used program was i-Ready serving about 28 percent of enrolled students and Waterford served the lowest number of students at about 9 percent of licenses for last school year. The lstation program served 13.6 percent of students and SuccessMaker served 11.8 percent of students. We estimate that there will be no balances remaining in this program at the end of FY 2016. There is an ongoing base of $4.6 million for the program, but this funding pays for ongoing allocations to LEAs to support technology programs and not the license portion.

6. An increase of $500,000 1x Education Funding for IT Academy.

This appropriation was for software licenses and certification testing. This is a current program that has been funded with one-time money for the past three years. The main purpose is to provide opportunities for high school students to obtain basic to advanced certifications in software and network administration using MS Office products. The program does not have nonlapsing balances and without funding will discontinue in FY 2017. The program is created in statute, 53A-13-111.

I will be looking more deeply into these line items in SB 2, engaging in further discussions with the Governor’s staff, and will be posting my veto override decision within the next week.  If you have any feedback on the vetoed bills or budget line items, I’d love to hear from you.  Thanks!

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Day 45 — The Finish Line

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Utah law dictates that our legislative session ends, Sine Die, at midnight on Day 45, which was Thursday, March 10th.  I had a Dickensian moment on the last night of the session.  The “best of times” was at 11:57 pm Sen. Weiler, my Senate sponsor, presenting and passing HB 431 as the final bill passed in the 2016 session.  The “worst of times” was that I had five other bills that had passed through the House and Senate, were on the Senate calendar, but our time ended too soon to hear them.  Oh, the difference a few hours makes.

Several people have asked what happens when a bill doesn’t make it all the way through during the session.  Do you start the next year where you left off?  Nope.  You start at the very beginning, with opening a bill file for the next year.  Most of the bills below that died on the Senate calendar this year will be ones I’m planning to bring back in 2017 so I’ve got my work cut out for me and a bit of a head start as the bill language is already prepared.  While it is disappointing to have gotten so close to crossing the finish line on several bills, I am really grateful for my constituents and the legislative staff who helped breathe life into these ideas that will make our state better.  We will be back.

Information on what bills passed, what failed, what didn’t get brought up for a vote, and more in the End of Session Newsletter….coming soon!  Stay tuned.

This link includes the full list of the bills I’m sponsoring and co-sponsoring.

FINAL PASSAGE

THE SESSION ENDED WHILE THESE BILLS WERE ON THE SENATE CALENDAR 

SUBSTITUTED, BUT NOT PASSED OUT OF HOUSE COMMITTEE

  • HB 418, Local Incentives for Energy Efficient Buildings this bill was substituted with language from HB 474 and became HB 418, Economic Revitalization and Investment Modifications.  Had we not run out of time in the Senate, my plan was to include this language in HB 431 above, and since they both deal with affordable housing that would have been appropriate.  However, that would have required the bill return to the House for concurrence on the Senate action of substituting and there was not time for that action to take place, especially when HB 431 passed out of the Senate at 11:57 pm.  
    • The NEW HB 418 — Sets in place a market-based revolving loan fund for developers who build housing targeted to those earning 15-30% of the AMI, average median income, of the location of the development.
    • The original HB 418 — Affirms authority of municipalities, counties, and land use authorities to incentivize energy efficient buildings by expedited permit process, zoning etc.

DIED IN HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE

HELD IN HOUSE COMMITTEE, RETURNED TO RULES

NOT DRAFTED/WILL WORK ON DURING INTERIM

Department of Environmental Quality Compliance Amendments — establishes and clarifies a process for industry compliance questions to the DEQ, following the OSHA existing process.

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Day 43 — On Voting and Nutella

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As your legislator I try and do the right thing.  Make the right vote, gather the right information, talk to the right people, analyze the right data.  Still, it’s inevitable that there are times when folks working on the same issue have to agree to disagree.  The reality is that as legislators we cannot make everybody happy all the time.  And that’s OK.  I have made a commitment to reach out to my constituents in as many ways as I can think, to bring the issues, the process, and the decisions to you.  I hope you feel connected to what’s happening in the state legislature.  For me the interactions with constituents are priceless, as the commercial says.  Your perspective is unique.  It’s based on your life experience, values, and vision for the future and it matters a lot to me.  

On Day 43, with well over 100 bills waiting for our consideration, your input is especially important.  More than anything this post tonight is a shout out to all those who have taken the time to get involved in the political process and reach out to me.  Thank you for the validation when we agree, and for calling me on the carpet when we don’t.  I know we are not going to agree all the time, but I am committed to truly represent you in the Utah House to the best of my ability.  Know that I study and analyze each bill we hear and am giving it my best effort to make the right vote.  As always, your perspective and input broadens my understanding of the issues before us and I am so appreciative for what you share and how it enhances my perspective.  

 

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Day 42 — The Home Stretch

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Today we began the last week of the legislative session.  The last four days are unique in that some of the rules and procedures change in order to help facilitate us getting as much work done as possible.  Today was the last day for the House to hear House bills and for the Senate to hear Senate bills.  Beginning tomorrow the House will only vote on  Senate bills and the Senate will only vote on House bills. Because of that, we stayed extra late on the floor this evening in an attempt to hear as many of the House bills as possible.  I was fortunate that two of my bills were among those that were heard after 10:00 pm.  The first was HB 431 that describes the development of land surrounding transit districts, with a special focus on affordable housing in those areas.  The second bill from this evening has the unique distinction of being the last House bill we passed this session, and that is HJR 14 which states that 50% of any new revenue the state receives from the transfer of public lands will go into a fund and will be used to increase starting salaries for teachers.  

Our final budgets are here and I’m really pleased to report that the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, I have served as the lead sponsor for the funding request, is getting funded at $150,000.  This is a great boon to all those in Davis County who enjoy the trail and will allow the completion of the trail miles in Davis County.  

In our last 3 days we will be on the floor somewhere around 26 hours, give or take a few hours, depending on how long we work before adjourning each evening.  If history serves as a predictor, we may very well pass 150 bills these last three days.  We are constitutionally mandated to complete our work by midnight on the night of the 45th day, and any bills not having been heard at that point are sent back and must begin again from scratch next year.  I will have 7 of my bills that are still in action these last few days.  They are all on the Senate calendar and I am hopeful that with the good work of my colleagues in the Senate, and my fantastic Senate sponsors, that we will see them all pass.  

Stay tuned…..we’re in for a wild ride!

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Our Utah Capitol Turns 100 — Chapter Five

Over the twentieth century, the Capitol building and grounds underwent a number of modifications, including additions of monuments, artwork, and new buildings, as well as restorations, and the effects of two significant storms. 

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Renovations Abound

In the mid-1950’s, renovations were made throughout the Capitol and grounds.  The State Reception Room was repainted, its furniture repaired and reupholstered, and its rug cleaned.  The Capitol interior floor plan was altered to render the building more adaptable to modern-day office needs.  In 1969, other renovations were made including repainting of the interior. 

Despite these good intentions, many of the modifications sacrificed the Capitol’s historic and character-defining architectural qualities.

 

Buildings Added to the Hill

In response to tremendous state growth and the need for additional office space, the legislature appropriated funds for a State Office Building.  Added just north of the Capitol, the building was completed and dedicated in 1961. 

 

Council Hall, located at the southern base of Capitol Hill, was formerly called City Hall.  Built from 1865 to 1866, it was originally located at 120 East 100 South, functioning as a meeting place for the state government until the capitol in Fillmore was ready.

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In 1962, City Hall was moved to its current location and was re-dedicated in 1963 as Council Hall.  Today it is home to the Utah Office of Tourism, Film, and Global Branding.

 

The White Memorial Chapel, first built in 1883, was originally located on A Street and 2nd Avenue, and served as a home to a congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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In 1973, the chapel was carefully disassembled and in 1976, was rebuilt in its current location adjacent to Council Hall.  The building is now a non-denominational chapel. 

 

Sculptures Added to the Rotunda

In the 1905s, a bronze sculpture of Daniel Cowan Jackling by Avard Fairbanks was added to the Capitol’s interior.  Jackling’s vision of massive extraction of low-grade minerals helped pave the way for Utah’s successful mining industry.  A bronze of Brigadier General Thomas Kane, by Ortho Fairbanks, was also added, to honor his assistance to the pioneers, helping mitigate conflicts while Utah was a territory.  In 1996, the bronze sculpture of Martha Hughes Cannon by Laura Lee Stay Bradshaw, was dedicated honoring Cannon as the first woman senator in the United States and as someone who promoted health policy. 

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Monuments and Sculptures Added to the Grounds

The Mormon Battalion Monument was added to the Utah Capitol grounds in 1927 to commemorate the 500 Mormon pioneer volunteers who joined the US Army during the Mexican War.  The figures are sculpted of rose-pink granite and bronze and chronicle the periods of the Battalion’s history. 

 

Chief Massasoit greeted the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts—the subject of renowned Utah artist Cyrus E. Dallin’s sculpture located on the grounds of the Capitol’s east entrance.  In 1922, the original plaster version was on view in the Capitol Rotunda, and decades later was duplicated in bronze and placed on the grounds.

 

On July 24, 1976, Utah’s Pioneer Day, two bronze beehives were added to the exterior South steps of the Capitol.

 

The Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos Veterans Memorial was added to the grounds in 1989 to honor the veteran soldiers from Utah who served in the Vietnam War.  It lists the names of men and women who died or went missing in action. 

 

Supreme Court Relocates

The Supreme Court resided in the Capitol until 1998, when it relocated to the Scott M. Matheson Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City.  The court does, however, hold special ceremonial sessions in the Capitol building to this day. 

 

Weathering the Storms

Two storms caused great damage to the Capitol and grounds.  The first transpired in 1980 as a severe windstorm.  It swept across the Capitol causing tremendous damage to the dome.  A new copper roof had to be installed. 

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The second storm came on August 11, 1999, when a tornado furrowed through downtown Salt Lake City and then across the South lawn of the Utah State Capitol.  Many mature trees were uprooted and destroyed

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A local artisan, Chris Gochnour, wanted to show that in the midst of disaster, something beautiful could result.  He repurposed the wood from the fallen trees and built the Governor’s ceremonial desk, bookcase, and table, which can be viewed in the Governor’s ceremonial office. 

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Your Voice Matters = Survey Results!!

 

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The following charts provide a visual representation of the data gathered from the close to 300 constituents who participated in the survey.  Thank you to all who participated!  Additionally, a big thank you goes to Nick Baker, senior at Bountiful High School who has been interning with me during the legislative session.  Nick created this survey and has helped in the data analysis.  

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3 M: More Medicaid Messages

 

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This week HB 437, Health Care Revisions, a limited expansion of Medicaid to 16,000 of the neediest Utahns, including targeted populations of the homeless, recently incarcerated, and those dealing with behavioral and substance use challenges.  Yes, it doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of all those in our state who need health coverage.  So, does this mean we should reject this bill on principle and forego the opportunity to help these 16,000 people?  That’s an entire Huntsman Center at the University of Utah full of people who will have health coverage under HB 437.   

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Find out why I voted yes on this bill and why I think it represents the quote, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable–the art of the next best.”

More in depth information, media coverage, and analysis follows.  Thank you to the Utah Health Policy Project for this great resource.  

·         UT Democrats argue HB437 doesn’t go far enough (KUERDesNews)

·         Chase Thomas from ABU wrote an op-ed arguing HB437 is not Medicaid expansion (03.03.16)

·         UHPP on KRCL’s Radioactive talking about Rep. Dunnigan’s bill (03.02.16)

·         Gov. Herbert said of Dunnigan’s bill “There’s always room for improvement, we don’t just set it and forget it” (03.02.16)

·         This SLTrib Editorial argues Utahns should be ashamed of Dunnigan’s health bill (03.01.16)

·         The United Health Foundation Report ranked Utah average for preventive healthcare (03.01.16)

·         Joint press conference with Rep. Dunnigan, and Mayors Biskupski and McAdams on importance of passing HB437 (GephardtStandardDesNewsKUERABC4City WeeklyBYU Universe)

·         Rep. Dunnigan’s bill passed out of House Business & Labor on Tuesday (APDesNewsFox13SLTribKUERStandard)

·         Bill Tibbitts and Camille Winnie joined host Jason Mathis on KCPW to talk expansion (02.27.16)

·         Rep. King worries that if we go forward with poor public policy, next year we won’t be in a good position to change it (ParkRecord)

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The Where, What, When, and Why of my Bills

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I’m sponsoring 13 bills, one resolution, and am working with my colleagues in theSenate as House sponsor on several bills.  The location and brief description of each of my bills is below.

This link includes the full list of the bills I’m sponsoring and co-sponsoring (this is also the link to request tracking for any bills).

FINAL PASSAGE

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEES, AWAITING VOTE BY FULL SENATE 

IN SENATE COMMITTEE THIS WEEK

PASSED OUT OF HOUSE COMMITTEE, AWAITING FULL HOUSE VOTE

IN HOUSE COMMITTEE THIS WEEK

IN HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE, AWAITING COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENT

HELD IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

FINAL PASSAGE ON SENATE BILLS I’M HOUSE SPONSORING

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE, AWAITING FULL HOUSE VOTE

  • SB 67, Partnerships for Student Success
    • Creates within a school system partnerships with community entities, non-profits, and others to meet the needs of students and families.  Specifies collaboration and data are used to meet specific educational outcomes.
  • SB 142, Improvement District Amendments
    • Allows sewer districts the authority to dispose of food waste in a similar fashion to their current process for sewer waste.

NOT DRAFTED/WILL WORK ON DURING INTERIM

Department of Environmental Quality Compliance Amendments — establishes and clarifies a process for industry compliance questions to the DEQ, following the OSHA existing process.

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Day 39 — The Art of the Possible

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Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.”

— Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck


For several years I have been an outspoken supporter of health care reform and have worked for expanding medical care to the over 100,000 Utahns without coverage.  

HB 437, Health Care Revisions, is not my “perfect.”  This is not 100% of what I’d like to see, nor does it cover all those in need.  

However, politics is about negotiation and knowing what is possible.  To that end, I am supporting this bill and it’s coverage of 16,000 citizens in our state.  These are 16,000 of the poorest, sickest, and most needy Utahns who would not otherwise be covered: those who are homeless, or moving out of incarceration, those needing mental health and substance use treatment, and who have chronic medical issues.  With a surety that any plan more expansive than this would not pass our House, remember 2015?, this is perhaps our only feasible option this year.  After several years of extensive work on this issue, bill sponsor Rep. Jim Dunnigan has crafted a compromise bill that has broad support in the community and enough support in the House to actually pass, which is more than the other more expansive bills out there have going for them.  

SB 77, Medicaid Expansion Proposal, Sen. Davis

HB 302, Utah Medicaid Amendments, Rep. Ward

Health care reform and my commitment to provide increased accessibility and affordability in health care does not end with this bill.  I hope we move forward with a strong commitment to use this as a framework for additional change.

As a policy maker it’s “incumbent upon us to be pragmatic and pragmatism welcomes compromise.”  In this case pragmatism dictates passage of HB 437.  

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Day 38 — Are you on the Budget Naughty or Nice List?

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Today the Proposed Funding Items for the 2016 General Session were released.  The link to the full budget is here. However, as long as you’re visiting the blog, why don’t you just sit back, get comfy, and scroll through these screen shots of each budget.  You can see if your favorite program or project made the naughty or nice list this year.  There will be some additional items funded that we as House members are prioritizing tomorrow.  We have a list of items that didn’t make this master list and we have $2M to prioritize in the Ongoing column and $2M to prioritize in the One-time column. The amount of total requests on that prioritization list is around $20M on each list, so we’re paring down to $1 for every $10 in requests.  I’m encouraging my colleagues to prioritize $200K for the completion of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Davis County.  The budget was very tight, especially in the General Fund (comprised of all sales tax in the state and some property tax), and there were $14 of requests for every $1 available.  I think the committees got very good at this:

 

 

So, drumroll please, here are the proposed funding items:

Executive Offices and Criminal Justice

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Infrastructure and General Government

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Public Education

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Executive Appropriations

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Social Services

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Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality

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Business, Economic Development, and Labor

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Higher Education

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Retirement and Independent Entities

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