A Day, Week, or Month, in the Life

In answer to a question I get asked a lot, “What do you do in the legislative off-season?,” I thought I’d share a list, with a few pictures, of what I’ve been up to since the legislative session ended six weeks ago.  Unknown

 

Safe Harbor Board meeting – I sit on the Board of the domestic violence shelter in Davis County, Safe Harbor. We have monthly meetings, which I missed during the legislative session, and I am glad to get back in the swing of things with this and other boards I sit on.

 

YWCA Lunch – with women community leaders, celebrating International Women’s Month. An incredibly dynamic group of women, all impacting women and families with their great work.

 

Education Forum with Pasi Sahlberg – Participating in a discussion with this Finnish educator, and Harvard Professor, about the changes Finland implemented in their education system to catapult their student success. Impressive efforts and I learned so much.

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KUED Advisory Board – Another group I work with as a board member. The community impact, both for young children and as the premier storyteller in Utah, make serving on this board a privilege.

 

Women in the Economy – I serve as Co-Chair of the legislative Women in the Economy Commission, along with Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck. We are focusing our efforts on how we can enable women to choose how they want to participate in their economic independence by reducing barriers in education, occupations, and wage gaps. Families succeed when women succeed and that is our focus.

 

Envision Utah – As a member of the Housing and Cost of Living Action Team with Envision Utah’s “Your Utah Your Future” program, we got to see the official roll out of the large scale polling Envision Utah is undertaking. Their goal is to get 50,000 Utahns to share their thoughts and priorities about how Utah should grow. Go on their website at envisionutah.org and make your voice heard!

 

Together 4 Utah – I had a chance to participate in an interview with Thomas Wright and Senator Jim Dabakis for their TV show. Lively and interesting. In five minutes we hit state school board, state liquor laws, air quality, and more!

 

Stericycle – Senator Todd Weiler and I met with the folks at Stericycle in NSL to talk about their progress and plan to move to their new location in Tooele County. Permits have been filed and the lengthy process is in the works.

 

Katharine Hayhoe Faith and Climate breakfast – met with some constituents and community leaders to listen to scientist and author Katherine Hayhoe of Texas.

 

Intergovernmental Roundtable — I am the current chair of the Intergovernmental Roundtable, a group consisting of folks from different agencies and departments across state, local, and city government.  We discuss issues and the different perspectives are helpful in achieving a deeper understanding.  This month we heard from Jonathan Ball, Office of theLegislative Fiscal Analyst, as to the budget just passed in the 2015 session.

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DATC Meeting about ASL program with constituents to discuss the potential closure of the ASL program – Some impassioned parents and constituents invited me to participate in a presentation to the DATC board, asking for them to reconsider their decision to close the ASL interpreting program.

 

BYU Management Society – I was one of 4 presenters on a panel of professionals who spoke to the BYU Management Society about career paths. Bright and interesting individuals in the audience. Great questions. Also, my first time in the Goldman Sachs offices, which were beautiful.

 

Inaugural Intergenerational Poverty Research Meeting – A group of scholars, researchers, providers, and agencies, all discussing ways to collect good data that can inform policy making. This is a huge interest of mine and made for an awesome day.

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Real Women Run Spring Training – I was a presenter on a panel discussing using data in campaigning. The group of women attending were all considering running for office and it was a great opportunity to provide information and support for them in this process.

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Clean Air Strategy Meeting – Legislators and community folks involved in air quality got together to discuss what went well this session and where we need to move forward in advance of the 2016 session.

 

Davis County Republican Women Luncheon – A chance to share some thoughts about the legislative session with this group of women republicans in Davis County. Their involvement and passion for the issues really earns my respect.

 

West Bountiful Elementary School – I spoke with my sister, Cecilee Price-Huish, to a class of 4th graders about ways to get involved, make your voice heard, and change things in your community. These kids knew their stuff as they had spent several months following specific bills during the session, including my HB 226, Air Quality Revisions.

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Communities That Care Board – This is a group I’ve worked with for a few years and are working to bring efforts in the community together to strengthen youth. Good things coming on this front!

 

Governor Herbert signs HB 30 – Governor Herbert conducts a ceremonial bill signing on my HB 30, Math Education, along with 4 other education bills. Several dozen students from the Joel P. Jensen Middle School Math, Engineering and Science Club stood around him at the signing.

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United Womens Forum – I spoke to this group about student testing and a bill I supported that allows parents to opt their children out of some student assessments.

 

State Workforce Investment Board – This is a state-wide group of individuals representing education, employment, government, workforce, and service providers, all working to enhance job growth and employment opportunities for Utahns. I gave a presentation on the 2015 legislative session and bills that impact the mission of this group.

 

BYU Student project judging – Along with 3 other judges, we observed and gave feedback to student presentations that were the culmination of a semesters work on a “Safe Routes to Schools” project as part of a public health campaign. Very impressive students. It was fun to be back on campus.

 

Days of ’47 Board – Since 2001 I have served on the Days of ’47 board, first as the Chair of the Youth Parade for 8 years, and recently in a fund raising capacity. I love the mission of this group, which is to bring the spirit of the pioneers to life for those who are first generation Utah pioneers themselves, or are descendants of the original pioneers. Fortitude, courage, and vision apply to both groups.

 

Bountiful City Council – With colleagues Rep. Ray Ward and Sen. Todd Weiler as we provided a legislative wrap up in the work session of the Bountiful City Council. I am continually reminded of how lucky we are in this area to have a good working relationship with our city and county officials

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Scout tour – One of my favorite things to do is share the “People’s House” with youth groups. This group was a scout troop from North Salt Lake. Several had been on Capitol tours before and gave me some tips about tidbits I missed in my tour, ha.

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Davis Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs Committee– Another opportunity to present a re-cap of the legislative session. As legislators we meet once a week with our Davis Chamber representatives during the session and it helps bring understanding and unity on issues.

 

Interim Committee Co-Chairs meet with Legislative Leadership – A discussion of potential study items, prioritization by the Co-Chairs, Senator Aaron Osmond in my case, and additional items the leadership would like to assign to committees. We now have a framework for our interim work.

 

Goldman Sachs Women’s Network Panel – I served as a panelist with Sen. Deidre Henderson and Sen. Ann Millner, as we discussed women in politics, and ways women can become involved and make their voices heard. This is an interesting group of men and women who have potential for so much positive community impact and it was a treat to spend the evening with them.

 

Homeless Services Commission and SLC Mayor Becker – A robust discussion with legislators, Mayor Becker, and the Commission on what has been done so far with homelessness reduction, and how the state can support the next steps to continue the efforts.

 

Utah Sports Commission State of Sport Awards Evening – An awesome evening where athletes at every level were honored for their inspiring performances. It turns out I had connections to several of the award winners and am proud of how they serve as great ambassadors for our state.

 

ABCD Training – I attended a training on Asset Based Community Development hosted by the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council. I have worked extensively with parents, advocates, agencies and providers in this community and always learn something from those interactions.

 

Davis Chamber of Commerce Business to Business – A topic specific presentation to the business community in Davis County. My topic: air quality.

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Utah Coalition for Citizens Democracy – Along with 3 other legislators, Rep. Sophia DiCaro, Rep. Sandra Hollins, and Sen. Jani Iwamoto, we hosted a group of elected officials from Bangladesh. After our discussion, as we were touring in the Senate gallery we ran into another international group of visitors, this time from India. The issue that got the most discussion from our guests from Bangladesh? The lack of women represented in our legislature. Bangladesh has a quota that 33% of elected officials be women. They were awfully puzzled as to why Utah doesn’t enact quotas for women legislators.

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ABC TV Interview – Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Co-Chair of the Women in the Economy Commission, and I were interviewed about the work of the commission and our efforts to understand and decrease the gender wage gap in our state.

 

Davis Education Foundation Gala – A fun opportunity to celebrate and support the efforts of educators in the Davis School District. Some of the very best educators in our state are right here in our schools and I’m so proud of the great work they do for our students.

 

 

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The Work You Do When the Work Is Done

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When the work of the legislative session is done, a different kind of work begins.  This period between sessions is called “Interim.”  Legislators meet in monthly interim committees, with members of Senate and House working together, to continue studying issues, and follow the actions and efforts of departments and agencies impacted by previous legislation.

 

Last week the Co-Chairs of each interim committee met with the House and Senate leadership to discuss and prioritize their study items for interim. I serve with Senator Aaron Osmond as Co-Chair of the Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee.  You can see the list of our interim committee study items below or as a pdf in this link listing each interim committee and their study items.  As always, public input is encouraged and is helpful in achieving a more complete understanding of complex issues.

 

2015 Interim Study Items

by Interim Committee

Approved by Legislative Management Committee on April 22, 2015

BUSINESS AND LABOR

  1. Consumer credit laws – to study recent and impending federal regulatory impacts on consumers and financial institutions, and examine implications on state regulations.
  2. New motor vehicle sales – to study issues related to the automobile dealer franchising process.
  3. Building code revisions and building code revision timeline – to study the impending changes to the various codes that will occur this year, and also examine the statutorily established timeframe that the codes are updated.
  4. Bail bonds – to study issues related to bail bonds, including a court’s use of bail bonds for a purpose other than ensuring the accused person appears in court at the appointed place, date, and time.
  5. Occupational and professional licensing court case – to review the U.S. court case regarding a conflict of interest for those licensing board members who also practice in the profession.
  6. Study of 2015 General Session S.B. 127, Transport of Railroad Employees (as requested by Sen. Mayne).

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND WORKFORCE SERVICES

  1. Intergenerational Poverty – review Department of Workforce Services 5 and 10-year plans and build on state-based research to address perpetual poverty among generations of families.
  2. Economic Development and Air Quality – follow-up on the Economic Development Task Force recommendations, study the economic impact of air quality issues, and consider market-based approaches to improving air quality.
  3. Affordable Housing and Transit – work with transit-oriented development partners to provide due consideration to affordable housing as part of development near transit stations.
  4. Economic Development Incentives – study existing incentives to consider effectiveness and potential improvements.
  5. Workforce Recruitment and Training – find ways to help existing businesses recruit needed talent and to study the provision of custom training programs for employees and potential employees of the state’s changing workforce needs.
  6. Committee Housekeeping, Agency Issues, and Code Clean-up – provide normal and customary “investigation and study [of] possibilities for improvement in government services within [the] subject area” including sunset reviews, agency written reports, vetting of specific agency issues, and Utah Code revisions (see IR2-1-201).
  7. Land use data compiled by governmental agencies to see that they are consistent across the state (requested by Senator Adams).

EDUCATION

  1. State education governance: Study the method for selecting State Board of Education members
  2. Educator professional development: Study best practices and determine whether to fund a statewide approach
  3. Charter schools: Study governance, oversight, and accountability and determine the role of charter schools in Utah’s public education system
  4. Student assessment requirements: Study testing mandates, the number of hours spent testing across LEAs, and the extent to which testing limits students’ access to technology as a learning tool
  5. Early grade reading and math proficiency: Study interventions that may be needed to improve early grade reading and math proficiency
  6. Alternatives to funding higher education buildings (requested by Pres. Niederhauser)
  7. Review effects of performance funding (requested by Pres. Niederhauser)

GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

  1. School Board Elections – In England v. Hatch, the constitutionality of Utah’s method of selecting state school board members was called into question. In the 2015 General Session, legislators proposed several pieces of legislation to address the issue, but ultimately none of the legislation passed. If the legislature does not act, the courts will have significant discretion to apply a remedy of their choosing.
  2. Plurality – Determining a Winner in a Multi-candidate Primary Race – 2014 General Session H.B. 54 created multiple methods by which a candidate can access a primary election ballot. A primary election ballot may therefore list several individuals running for the same office, creating the possibility that a candidate could with the primary election with less than a majority vote. In the 2015 General Session, legislators proposed several pieces of legislation to address the issue, but ultimately none of the legislation passed.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

  1. Medicaid Preferred Drug List Expansion – to study whether to authorize the Department of Health to include all psychotropic and anti-psychotic drugs on the Medicaid program’s preferred drug list. (H.B. 156)
  2. Medical Liability – to study whether a health care provider should only be responsible to the spouse, parent, or child of a patient for providing or failing to provide health care. (H.B. 405)
  3. Medical Marijuana – to study whether to permit the possession, use, and growing of medical cannabis. (S.B. 259)
  4. Care for the Elderly (as time permits)
    1. Caregiver support – to study how to support individuals and agencies who provide

      or facilitate care of the elderly.

    2. Continuous care facilities – to study how to regulate the industry. (H.B. 436).

c. Homecare Cottage – to study the homecare cottage concept as a long-term portable care option for senior citizens.

JUDICIARY

  1. Family law: to include study of the statute and issues relating to alimony (length, cohabitation, and rehabilitative alimony provisions)
  2. Civil Rights: to study the statute and current use of surveillance, subpoenas, and police use of force

LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

  1. The impact and implementation of HB 348 on state agencies – this item consist of bringing in the Department of Corrections, the Sentencing Commission, the courts, Adult Probation and Parole, prosecuting and defense attorneys, etc to discuss the implementation of HB 348 and how it impacts their respective areas. Also key would be any unintended consequences/side effects of the legislation realized since its enactment.
  2. The use of body cameras by law enforcement officers – this item is related to HB 386 (McCay).
  3. Use of force by law enforcement officers in Utah – this issue/study item would focus on:
    1. historical data regarding use of force and lethal use of force by law enforcement

      officers and statewide reporting;

    2. POST training provided to officers regarding the use of force and when it’s

      appropriate;

    3. Public perception of law enforcement and how that has changed as well as what

      can be done to improve this in Utah;

    4. How investigations of use of force by law enforcement is conducted in Utah.

NATURAL RESOURCES, AGRICULTURE, AND ENVIRONMENT

  1. Natural Resources
    1. Water – pricing, infrastructure funding mechanisms, Leg. Audit on resources and

      needs (water issues such as development and cost given the highest priority,

      requested by Sen. Adams)

    2. Bear Lake – site visit, development, access, quagga, phragmites
    3. State Parks – expansion, spin off tourism from national parks
  2. Agriculture
    1. Bee Keeping
    2. State Fairpark (The Legislature intends that the Legislative Management Committee study by its October 2015 interim meeting the long term viability of the State Fairpark in its current location. – S.B. 2, 2015 General Session)
  3. Environment
    1. Air quality – solid fuel burning program, ozone in Uintah Basin, Tier III fuels
    2. Disposal of depleted uranium in west desert

POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS

  1. Community Development and Renewal Agencies. (Harper and Handy; SB55)
  2. Good Landlord Program – to study issues related to the Good Landlord Program (H.B.

    268). (Froerer; HJR26 Item #10) and (Brian King; HJR26 Item #11)

  3. Municipal and County Code Enforcement – to study municipal and county enforcement

    of ordinances regarding abatement of weeds, garbage, refuse, unsightly objects, and other

    conditions deemed to be a public nuisance. (Thatcher; HJR26 Item #136)

  4. Historic Districts – to study parameters and creation guidelines of historic districts.

    (Webb; HJR26 Item #204)

  5. Subdivision Base Parcels – to study delinquent taxes on subdivision base parcels. (Webb;

    HJR26 Item #24)

  6. Assessment Area Bonding – to study assessment area bonding and foreclosure. (Webb;

    HJR26 Item #3)

  7. Subdivision Bonding – to study subdivision bonding and security. (Webb; HJR26 Item

    #25)

  8. Local Government Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) – to study whether to allow a

    municipality and county to enter into an agreement to allow the transfer of development rights between their respective jurisdictions (H.B. 287). (Powell and House Political Subdivisions Standing; HJR26 Item #134)

  9. Insurance for Lateral Sewer Lines – to study whether local government and sewer districts should provide insurance to homeowners for lateral sewer lines. (Coleman; HJR26 Item #132)

PUBLIC UTILITIES AND TECHNOLOGY

  1. Interstate Transmission Lines – The Utah code is silent in regard planning and location for interstate transmission lines passing through the state. The issue is that these lines will create corridors, in perpetuity, through select mountain canyons and may or may not connect to the Utah electrical grid.
  2. Big Data / Longitudinal Data Management – the development of longitudinal state databases that are relational and can be used planning all types of infrastructure.
  3. EPA Rule 111(d) – the EPA will be issuing its final ruling this summer and that may affect the generation of power in Utah, transportation, and pollution control.
  4. Telehealth / Telemedicine & Technology – The use of technology to offer cost-effective, direct delivery by providers of healthcare services for both urban and rural environments.

REVENUE AND TAXATION

  1. Sales Tax Exemptions – to study and review all sales tax exemptions.
  2. Corporate franchise and income taxes – to study single sales factor and the economic

    benefits of a corporate income tax cut or repeal.

  3. Centrally Assessed Taxes – to study issues related to centrally assessed taxes including

    new growth.

  4. Excise taxes – to study excise taxes including the taxation of e-cigarettes.
  1. Sales and use tax earmarks – to review earmarks of the sales and use tax and recommendations provided by the Tax Review Commission.
  2. Historic Preservation Credit – to study whether to grant a historic preservation tax credit exemption.
  3. Tax Code Changes – to study simplifying the tax code, eliminating tax credits, and reducing tax rates.
  4. Property Taxes and Water Rates – to study whether to lower property taxes and replace the taxes with water fee increases.

TRANSPORTATION

  1. Consolidation of the Sales and Use Tax Earmarks for Transportation (See 1st Sub. H.B. 421 from the 2015 General Session as a possible solution).
  2. Implementation and impacts of the Transportation Funding Revisions made in the 2015 General Session including UDOT’s intended uses for revenue increases (maintenance funding and bridge rehabilitation projects?).
  3. Transportation Commission prioritization process review
  4. Coordination between UDOT and school districts on locating new schools (as time

    permits)

  5. Review Large I-15 Construction Projects (as time permits)
  6. Interim Study Items 200 and 205 related to vehicle towing (as time permits):
    1. 200. study issues related to the use of a tow truck motor carrier, vehicle towing, whether to require tow truck drivers to have a criminal background check before performing tow truck services, and towing vehicles from private parking lots (H.B. 266 and 2nd Sub. H.B. 266)(House Transportation Standing)
    2. 205. study statewide towing policies
  7. Interim Study Item 206: study nighttime work zone noise (as time permits)

 

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Day 45 — Sine Die

From this,

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to this,

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in 45 days.

Plenty of time for analysis tomorrow, so for now let me just say what a privilege it is to serve my community in the House.  Good night and sine die!

 

 

 

 

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Day 44 — Never, Never, Never Give Up

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I’m writing this at 3:00 am on Day 44 of the 2015 Legislative Session.  Actually, I guess it is technically Day 45.  We are coming down to the wire and were on the House floor for over 12 hours today trying to work our way through a long list of both House and Senate bills.  At around 11:00 pm a motion to adjourn was made on the floor.  That motion is non debatable, but is still voted upon.  This evening I witnessed something I’ve never seen before — the motion to adjourn was unanimously voted down.  Speaker Hughes was a bit surprised with that vote, but we continued on.  At midnight, another motion was made to adjourn and this time it was successful.  We’ll be back at it in a few hours to bring the session to a close, with our Sine Die, the Latin phrase meaning adjournment, required at midnight of Day 45.

While we went through several dozen bills today, three exemplify the famous Winston Churchill admonition to “Never, never, never give up.”

1.  HB 226, Air Quality Revisions

This air quality bill didn’t make it out of the 2014 session, failed to receive support last summer by an interim committee, but finally passed today!  The cliche at the Capitol is when legislators describe a bill as “This is a really simple bill,” or “This is a good bill.”  Actually, it is true for HB 226.  It’s a good, straightforward bill that allows our Utah experts to create and adopt rules that are different from the EPA rules, but which add to the public health or environment of our state.  For more on what this bill does, check out the interview here (warning: it’s rather lengthy, but you get a great picture of this bill and other air quality issues for the session).

2.  SB 296 and SB 297.  These two bills go hand in hand in addressing Anti-Discrimination and Religious Liberties in the areas of housing and employment.  I am proud to be a Utahn tonight. The passage of these bills has been years in the making.  This is my 7th year at the Capitol. Every year since I’ve been elected we’ve discussed this issue and I’ve been waiting for a chance to vote yes.  As a mother, grandmother, neighbor, community member, elected official, and person with deep religious convictions, I strongly support this bill. It makes me proud to live in a Utah that ensures equality and fundamental rights for ALL!  Again, this is an issue that has grown in support through the years as understanding and awareness have increased.  Again, Churchill got it right.

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3.  SB 97, Property Tax Equalization Amendments, is an attempt to equalize the property tax revenue across the state in order to ensure equal access to revenue for educational opportunities statewide for our schools and students.  This inequity across the state leaves us vulnerable to an attack on equity and adequacy from the courts.  Because we have neglected to take care of this issue for the past many years, we are finding ourselves in a “must do it this year” situation.  This bill passed and I am hopeful it will be the beginning for more equitable funding and education across the state.

Amidst all of that, we also managed to pass numerous other bills.  Here is the complete list of the bills from today.

Thanks for reading and tune in tomorrow, the much anticipated Day 45!

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Day 43 — Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

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For the first 43 days of the Legislative Session we’ve met in a variety of committees:  standing, appropriation, sub-committees, task forces, commissions.  Each of them play an important role in the legislative process.  Committees are where bills are first heard, either on the House or the Senate side.  By rule, each bill should have a hearing in both House and Senate Committees.  Our leadership team this year has been very focused on making sure this has been the case.  In fact, in an effort to give all bills a chance to go through that process we have held committees for an extra two days this session, ending this afternoon.  Committees are where in-depth discussions and questions on bills can be explored.  They are also the only opportunity for public input on proposed legislation.  They are important!

So, as of this afternoon, we are done with committees for the 2015 legislative session.  We now move on to full time on the House and Senate floor.  The House at this point is pretty much only discussing Senate bills and vice versa.  In the next two days we will be spending 25 hours on the floor.  This is approximately the equivalent of the time we spent on the floor during the first two weeks of the session.

The following are budget bills we passed today.  Also, HB 226, my air quality bill allowing Utah experts to create state-specific rules to address EPA standards, passed the Senate 2nd Reading Calendar with a vote of 22-7.  We still have to pass the 3rd Reading Calendar in the Senate, but I’m thinking that will most likely happen tomorrow.  Sen. Todd Weiler did a great job as our Senate sponsor and helped a lot with the success of the bill on the Senate side.  The complete Clean Air Bill Tracker as of today is at the bottom of this post.

HB 2, Public Education Budget Amendments

HB 3, Current Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations

HB 8, State Agency and Higher Education Compensation Appropriations

SB 2, New Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations Act

SB 4, Current School Year Supplemental Public Education Budgets

SB 8, State Agency Fees and Internal Service Fund Rate Authorization Fees

 

Air Quality bills:

Air Quality 2015 bills current status.

The text of HB 226

 

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Day 42 — What $14.2 Billion Gets Utah

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Of the many actions occurring during the legislative session, none is more critical than producing a balanced budget, which we are mandated to do under provisions in the Utah State Constitution.  Thousands of hours have been spent hearing, debating and refining hundreds of funding requests to determine how most responsibly to spend the taxpayer’s money.

 

Below are a few highlights of the recommendations from the Executive Appropriations Committee, who has taken into consideration input from the various Appropriations Committees:

  • There are two substantial public education appropriations.
    • $50 million to fund enrollment growth. This accounts for every additional student to our public education system.
    • $104 million added to the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU), a 4% increase. This is the largest increase to public education since 2008.
  • Higher education will receive $170 million in appropriations to fund new buildings. Among those projects is the Snow College Science building, the Huntsman Center Cancer Institute, the Dixie ATC Campus, the U. of U.’s Crocker Science Center, the USU Botanical Center and the UVU Student Activity Center. While not a complete list of all the higher education funding, this showcases a major investment in higher education infrastructure.
  • State employees will receive a 3% percent salary increase and Higher Education employees will receive a 2% salary increase. The Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and the Auditor will also see an increase in compensation beginning in 2016.
  • The 2015 budget also includes $15.3 million in funding to carry out a major Justice Reinvestment Initiative.
    • About two-thirds of those monies ($10.2 million) will go for implementation of changes within Adult Probation and Parole and for improving the transition and supervision of inmates leaving the incarceration path or diverted from it altogether.
    • The remaining one-third ($5.1 million) will support community-based treatment using best practices for those leaving incarceration and reentering the community

 

The full “final” budget, as of today, can be found here. The “final final” budget will be passed in the next day.

 

In addition to the appropriations above, bills that have fiscal notes also have to be funded. The House and Senate each have $5 Million for these bills. Here is a list of the fiscal note bills being prioritized by the House today. Each Rep was given an opportunity to prioritize where they’d like to see funding go. Those will be compiled and bills receiving priority will be placed on the calendar for votes.

 

This chart provides a helpful reminder of how the budget process works, including the role of the Governor’s Office of Planning andBudget, state agencies, the Legislative Fiscal Analyst office, Legislative Appropriations Committees, and finally the Executive Appropriation Committee.

 

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For those who like to compare and contrast, here is some information on the budget proposal Governor Herbert released in December, 2014. While the Governor makes budget recommendations, it is the legislature who has the responsibility for crafting and passing the final budget.

http://www.sltrib.com/home/1936577-155/herbert-seeks-largest-funding-boost-for

http://utahpoliticohub.com/utah-governor-gary-herberts-budget-recommendations-fiscal-year-2016-uph-wire/

 

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Day 40 & 41 — Fanfare for the Common Joys

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As the sun set on Week Six, the weekend brought opportunities for some simple, unabashed joys: family, music, conversation, nature, love.  We had a chance to support our niece, Sunny, in her school production of Peter Pan.  No better Smee has ever been seen on stage or screen.  The Utah Symphony did right by Beethoven and Copland, making both John and me very happy.  This is a man who wants “Fanfare for the Common Man” played at his funeral, after all.

 

 

Following one of our most successful Bagels & Briefings we headed up to Solitude for a few hours.  I truly think I have the best constituents in the state and appreciate those who take time out of their busy Saturday mornings to come share in discussions about policy and how to make a brighter future for our children and grandchildren here in Utah.  And any day that includes warm, spring skiing can’t be all bad.

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This is our church team that serves together in the SLC Oxbow County Jail.  I am inspired and motivated by the simple love these folks show to those we work to help.  Some of the very best people you could ever meet.

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Day 39 — Does A Healthy Utah Really Care?

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These four pictures of the Utah State Capitol were all taken by me on the same day last week.  Starting with the upper left when I arrived around 7:30 a.m. to a bleak, mid-winter sunrise, that grew within 5 hours to tufts of clouds dotting the clear blue sky.  By 6:30 the Capitol began it’s evening light up, building to a serene, deceptively peaceful view when I left late that night.  Four different views of the same Capitol, impacted by perspective, time and place.

Similarly, you often see and hear a myriad of viewpoints on the same issue, depending on perspective and position.  I respect the positions of my colleagues, even when our perspectives and principles give us starkly different views on the same issue.  This happens on occasion, and did this week on the Healthy Utah debate.

As you know by now SB 164, Healthy Utah, and HB 446, Utah Cares, were both debated in the House Business & Labor Committee on Tuesday evening.  Healthy Utah failed and the Utah Cares bill passed out to the House floor.

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On Thursday evening a motion was made on the House floor to lift Healthy Utah and bring it up for consideration and a vote by the entire House of Representatives.  I spoke strongly in favor of that motion, but it failed with only 16 of 75 yes votes.  The next day when Utah Cares was debated, a motion was made to substitute the entirety of that bill with Healthy Utah.  Where the vote on Thursday evening could have been seen as a vote on process and procedure, Friday morning was the de facto House vote on the Healthy Utah proposal.  That motion to substitute failed with only 22 yes votes and the Utah Cares bill went on to pass in the House.  Following the House support for Utah Cares and the Senate and Governor’s support for Healthy Utah, discussion will continue towards resolving this standoff.  Will there be time for those discussions to achieve a compromise in these last few days of the session, which ends on Thursday at midnight, or will it result in a vote in a special session that is called after the session ends.  Either way, I trust the process and am optimistic a compromise I can support will be reached.  Stay tuned.

 

The text of the two competing bills is below:

 

Passed the House

 

 

Media reports on the state of Healthy Utah this week and the efforts in the House to bring Healthy Utah to a full vote:  

My interview on KSL’s Doug Wright Show

KSL story on Healthy Utah

Fox 13 story on Healthy Utah

SLTrib story

Deseret News story on Healthy Utah

And now for something different:

KSL story on HB 226, my Air Quality bill

 

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Day 38 — You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Where I speak in favor of the motion to place Healthy Utah to a vote by the full House.

 

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Where the vote on that motion ended up.  Hmmm.

 

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What I learned.

 

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Day 37 — Some Good Bills Go to Heaven

Three big issues got significant play today.  I’m pleased with the direction that two of the three issues are headed, while being deeply disappointed in the failure of SB 164, Healthy Utah, to make it out of committee this evening. 

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1.  HEALTH CARE:

SB 164, Healthy Utah, fails and HB 446, Utah Cares, passes in the House Business and Labor Committee tonight. So, now the Senate has passed Healthy Utah and the House has passed Utah Cares. Will there be a negotiation/compromise between the two? I am hopeful.

 

2.  NON-DISCRIMINATION:

SB 296, Anti-Discrimination and Religious Freedom Amendments, Sen. Steve Urquhart, Sen. Stuart Adams, and Rep. Brad Dee

This bill prohibits discrimination in employment and housing and also guarantees religious liberty. It represents a compromise bill that has been years in the making

An article about the press conference held today with the LDS Church and legislative leaders, who stated the bill contains “strong religious freedom protections and a fair approach to housing and employment.” http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865623399/Utah-lawmakers-unveil-anti-discrimination-religious-rights-legislation.html?s_cid=Email-2

 

3.  STATE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS:

HB 186, 2Sub, State School Board Membership and Election Amendments, Rep. Francis Gibson

Non-partisan school board elections passed, 55-19.

I support non-partisan elections for the state school board, so I was one of the 55 yes votes.

 

SB 104, Education Elections and Reporting Amendments, Sen. Al Jackson

Provides that members of the state school board are elected through the partisan election process. This bill failed today on the House floor.

 

 

A BAKERS DOZEN OF OTHER ISSUES/BILLS OF INTEREST:

 

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1.  HB 60, Campaign Finance Amendments, Rep. Brian King

This bill failed on the House floor. I voted in favor.

Sets into place campaign contribution limits for corporations, individuals, labor organizations, and political action committees, of the following:

  • $20,000 to one state office candidate;
  • $10,000 to one legislative office candidate;
  • $5,000 to one school board office candidate;
  • $5,000 to one political issues committee;
  • $5,000 to one judge;
  • $40,000 to one registered political party;
  • $40,000 to one political action committee; or
  • $40,000 to one labor organization.

 

2.  HB 396, Solid Fuel Burning Amendments, Rep. Brad Dee

This bill passed out of the House committee and is up for a vote on the House floor.

I have serious concerns about this bill.

 

3.  S.B. 259 Substitute Medical Cannabis Amendments, Sen. Mark Madsen

Location: Senate 3rd Reading Calendar

Allows cannabis, and cannabis products, to be used and be possessed by people with specific qualifying illnesses.

  • These people need to be registered with the Department of Public Safety.
  • The division of Occupational and Professional Licensing can issue a license to operate a medical cannabis establishment
  • Allows the licensed person to grow, possess, process, and sell cannabis for the medical use of a patient (under certain circumstances)

This is a very interesting policy decision. I’m interested in hearing from you, and whether you feel it will be very helpful for treating various medical conditions, or if you feel it is a slippery slope and blurs the line between illegal drugs and medical interventions.

Here is an article pointing out some of the problems with the idea: http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2215962-155/op-ed-medical-marijuana-is-not-sensible

Here is an article supporting the issue http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/pot-for-pain
/Content?oid=2722718&showFullText=true

Here are a radio and a video segment of the senator and others explaining the issue.

http://www.senatesite.com/home/madsen-
marijuana/#more-12066

 

4.  HB 105, Plant Extract Amendments, Rep. Gage Froerer

We passed a bill last year that allowed for THC, or hemp extract, to be used in the treatment of individuals with epilepsy based conditions. It is a relevant part of the discussion on medical marijuana above.

 

5.  H.B. 94 Fifth Substitute Investigational Drug and Device Access for Terminally Ill Patients , Rep. Gage Froerer

Location: Achieved final passage

Another bill we heard this session, also from Rep. Froerer, deals with experimental, non-FDA approved medication usage for terminally ill patients.  People who are terminally ill will be allowed to use medicines that have not been formally approved. The health care provider will not be criminalized for treating a patient, who has consented to the experimental drugs, liable for the effect.

 

6.  H.J.R. 5 Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution — Protection of Religious Rights, Rep. Jacob Anderegg

Location: House Rules Committee

This is a resolution to amend Utah’s constitution when it comes to religious rights.

  • Religions organizations and the people within them cannot be forced to perform an act that goes against their beliefs.

 

7.  H.C.R. 10 Concurrent Resolution on Basing and Infrastructure in Support of National and State Defense, Rep. Val Peterson 

Location: House Consent Calendar

Supports the Air National Guard to move operations to Hill Air Force Base.

  • Integration of Reserve, National Guard, and Active Duty military components
  • 2014 study regarding the value and benefits of co-locating Utah Air National Guard and other components at Hill Air Force Base
  • Strategic value of the location
  • Collaboration and support for state and national defense

 

8.  H.B. 74 Consent Definition for Sexual Offense, Rep. Angela Romero 

Location: Legislative Research and General Counsel / Enrolling

This redefines the Criminal Code regarding Sexual offenses. This bill includes the following under what is considered to be rape.

  • When a person sees that the other is unconscious or unaware, the unconscious person does not need to provide proof of the assault
  • When a person knows that the other cannot comprehend what is happening or resisting the offense

 

9.  H.B. 262 Prison Relocation Commission Modifications, Rep. Merrill Nelson 

Location: House Rules Committee

Modifies the Prison Relocation Commission Provisions

  • Having the commission consider keeping the prison where it is currently located

 

10.  H.B. 54 Substitute Public Education Increased Funding Program, Rep. Jack Draxler

Location: House Education Committee

Increase the income tax from 5% to 5.5% to increase the Education Fund.

  • Creates the Income Tax Growth Account within the Education Fund
  • The increase would go directly to the Education Fund
  • Creates the Pay for Performance Incentive Pay Program

 

11.  H.B. 364 Suicide Prevention Amendments, Rep. Steve Eliason 

Location: House 3rd Reading Calendar for House bills

Sets in place a state wide suicide prevention program

 

12.  H.B. 209 Suicide Prevention Program Amendments, Rep. Justin Fawson 

Location: Senate 2nd Reading Calendar

This bill requires an individual to complete a course in suicide prevention in order to obtain or renew a license in a behavioral health profession.

 

13.  HB 348, Criminal Justice Programs and Amendments, Rep. Eric Hutchings

Passed the House floor today. On to the Senate. I voted yes.

More about this bill on my “Crime and Punishment” blog post from last week.

 

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