It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s that time of year where candidates are gearing up for the County and State party Conventions.  While I am running for re-election, I do not have a Republican opponent and as a result I have become the Republican candidate for the Utah State House, District 20, in the general election in November.

However, at the Caucus night held last week delegates were elected to get to know and vote on candidates in County and State wide races.  I respect and welcome the involvement of those delegates and appreciate their efforts to represent their neighbors in this important process.  Even though as the Republican nominee I will not be up for a vote by County delegates at this years Davis County Republican Convention I still value the opportunity to meet and hear from the delegates in my area.

To that end, I’m pleased to invite County Delegates for Legislative District 20 to attend any or all of the following events.  I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your concerns and ideas.

 

Saturday, March 29, “Pancakes and Politics”

8:00-9:30 am, my home, 1121 Eaglewood Loop, North Salt Lake

 

Tuesday, April 1, “Pizza and Politics”

7:00-8:30 pm, my home, 1121 Eaglewood Loop, North Salt Lake

 

Monday, April 7, “Family Night at the Capitol”

7:00-8:30 pm, meet at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda

You bring your family and I’ll provide the tour and family night treats.

 

Please contact me at utahbecky@gmail.com or 801-808-0805 with any questions or concerns.

Thank you to those who are serving as a delegate representing your neighborhood!

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End of Session Newsletter

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about legislation, appropriations, and policy process, all in one place:  Week Seven – End of the Legislative Session Newsletter.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting an in-depth analysis of the Top Ten legislative issues for the 2014 session, one issue at a time.  Check back tomorrow for the first item on the docket:  Air Quality.

 

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Day 45 — Playing favorites

My favorite constituent spends the last night of the legislative session with me up at the Capitol.

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Day 44 — Goodnight moon

Catching moonlight at the beginning and end of your work day tells you one thing…..it’s the last week of the session.  Enough said.

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Newsletters

Hello! Just in case you missed the last two newsletters, you can see them here:

Week Five

Week Six

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Day 43 — Budgets, bills, and brouhahas

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!

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Day 42 — Kick to the finish

We’ve picked up the pace today as we kicked to the finish of our House bills.  The House was on the chamber floor for almost 10 hours today and we debated the last 63 House bills, leaving only 4-5 on the board without a vote.  Those bills will be returned to Rules and some will be studied during the interim period before the legislative session next year.

If you’re into numbers you may find this interesting….so far during the first six weeks of the session the House has passed 116 bills and the Senate has passed 100, for a total of 216.  The total number of bills passed has increased over the past six legislative sessions, growing from 435 in 2008 to 524 in 2013.  To stay on that pace we would have to pass almost 300 bills in the next 3 days.  Thankfully, it is quality, not quantity that we’re shooting for.  More legislation does not necessarily equate to a successful session, and it appears this may be a year of smaller numerical output.  Our last three days will be spent with the House hearing Senate bills and vice versa.  I have four bills in the Senate working their way through the process, so I will have a lot to keep me busy these last few days.

The 2014 Legislative Session Budget was released this morning.  Check it out to see where all the money is headed.

The last Family Night at the Capitol was tonight.  We were headed back on the floor after a break for dinner and so I was only able to meet briefly with the families who attended, but my husband, intern, and docent Kathryn, were able to finish the tour.  It’s been a great privilege to introduce so many families to the People’s House.

Look closely and you can see my husband in the gallery with the family night group.

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Day 38 — Mostly dead is slightly alive

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9tAKLTktY0

I’m on the job!  HB 121, “Air Quality Amendments” failed to pass out of the Senate Committee today, which essentially killed the bill.  However…… through legislative rule, all is not lost.  After failing to receive a favorable recommendation from the committee this evening the bill will be returned to the Senate Rules Committee.  We will spend the next two days of floor time dealing with bills from our own legislative body (the House hearing House bills and the Senate hearing Senate bills), then state law requires that our last three days be spent hearing bills from the other body (the House hearing Senate bills and vice versa).

At that point, leadership in each body prioritizes all the bills they are sending over for consideration in the other body, which will (mostly) be heard in that order.  Following the Senate Committee this evening I was able to meet with House leadership and explain the situation with HB 121.  We discussed the Rule that every bill receive at least one committee hearing in each body.  It is not required that the bill receive a favorable recommendation in each committee, although that is the tradition.  If a bill is prioritized by leadership, it will be heard and voted on, in the case of HB 121, by the full Senate.

HB 121 is a very important bill and represents a good deal of compromise that came from significant debate from all sides of this issue.  I was disappointed and frankly very surprised with the outcome of the committee.   Several comments from the public and committee members centered around that this bill doesn’t go far enough.  I agree.  In fact, I was the House sponsor on Sen. Gene Davis’ SB 164, which was more of a game changer than HB 121, and I was certainly hoping it would pass.  Unfortunately, it failed by one vote on the Senate floor today.  However, it does seem short sighted to turn away a chance to get part of what you want simply because you don’t get all of what you want. It’s this crazy concept called compromise.

Oh, and in response to Miracle Max in The Princess Bride…..my noble cause is clean air.  And I’m on the job.

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Day 37 — A clean slate

At the end of our time on the floor tonight, at about 10:15 pm, we had a motion from Rules Chair Rep. Dean Sanpei, to “wipe the board” and return all the bills on the 3rd reading calendar to Rules.  Then he made a motion to lift the following bills from Rules and place them on the 3rd reading calendar, and continued by reading a list of about 25 bills.  This was extremely unfortunate timing for me because I had a bill, HB 277, “Music Therapist Licensure Amendments,” which was 6th in the queue of the 3rd reading calendar right before the board was wiped, and it did not get read back in tonight.  This means that tomorrow we will only hear the 25 or so bills that were placed back on the  board, and then additional bills will get placed on the 3rd reading calendar for Friday and Monday.  By law the last three days of the session must be spent solely on passing bills from the other body, so we in the House will only pass Senate bills and vice versa.  So, for my HB 277, and my remaining bill, HB 181, “Medical Waste Incineration Amendments,” this means the sooner to get on the board the better.  This becomes a game of timing and strategy at this point in the session and you want your bills to be heard as quickly as possible because the end is near!  We will be meeting in Committees up until Friday evening at 6:00 pm and then we’ll be back on the floor to pass as many House bills as we can before someone makes the non-debatable motion…..”Motion to adjourn.”  

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Day 36 — One step closer

Two of my bills, HB 121 and HB 94, are both one step closer to becoming laws after they passed out of the House this morning.  I’ve written about HB 121, Air Quality Revisions, before and explains how within parameters it allows Utah’s Air Quality Board to craft rules and regulations that are more stringent than the EPA if they find the additional rules would provide reasonable added protections to public health or the environment of the state or a region of the state.  This affirms our belief that we can address our needs, greatly based on unique topography and weather patterns, better than federal government “one size fits all” mandates.

HB 94, Workers Compensation and Home and Community Based Services, removes the current exemption for workers’ compensation coverage for workers in home and community based settings and who are providing services for individuals receiving state funds through the Medicaid waiver program.  This bill covers 1481 individuals with disabilities receiving state Medicaid funds and protects people with disabilities and their families from litigation if their care provider is injured in their home or during activities in the community.  This bill does NOT impact other in-home domestic employee-employer relationships.  It applies only to people using public funding through Medicaid waivers.  This is a good bill that protects both workers and families.

And…..the Medicaid expansion debate continues.

The chart below does a good job of explaining the difference between the three plans being discussed:

Governor Herbert’s “Healthy Utah: plan

Utah House plan, Rep. Dunnigan

Utah Senate plan, Senator Shiozawa

The focus of the debate remains on Utah’s ability to receive Medicaid waiver funds from the federal government, along with the much desired flexibility of how and where to spend those dollars.  There is great hesitation to commit to a full expansion, even with a 3 year “circuit breaker,” which would allow Utah to terminate any/all benefits associated with an expansion.  Additionally, a good portion of the debate is centered around the tax dollars Utah would lose if they don’t draw back any of those funds through an expansion (as in the House plan, although it does draw down $80M in federal matching funds by enrolling those in the coverage gap in Medicaid waiver programs already in place).  This issue may not be resolved in the last 7 working days of the session, as even amidst the debate there is tremendous caution and desire to “get it right.”  We may be back in a special session after our adjournment to vote on a plan.

 

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