Utah Cap Haps Blog

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Week Two Review

Let me introduce you to my intern, Kim Gabbitas. Kim is an undergraduate student in the Hinkley Institute of Politics Program at the University of Utah. She is sharp and witty and I am grateful for her assistance during this legislative general session. Last week, she had the opportunity to join me at an event where she was able to meet the Governor. If you are not able to reach me for any reason, don't hesitate to contact Kim. She is a fantastic resource.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Last week, we were visited by Congressman Chris Stewart and Congressman Jason Chaffetz to provide a brief update about what's going on in their world. We listened to updates on the efforts to reduce recidivism for those in federal prison, entitlement reform, regulatory reform, and budget controls. We look forward to watching for updates on these important issues.

During the first two weeks, we spent our mornings in appropriations subcommittees designing a base budget. This budget acts as a backstop if no final agreement is reached between the House and Senate during the legislative session, which this year ends at midnight on March 12th.

The base budget is based on the current fiscal year's budget, with one-time funding removed. This year, all appropriations subcommittees have been asked to design their base budget at 98 percent of the current allocation, as part of a budget effectiveness review. Through this exercise, each department has been charged with looking for inefficiencies, as well as determining departmental priorities in the case of declining state revenue.

Standing Committee Meetings
Though there is no concern this year, and budget surpluses are projected while departmental cuts are not, this process will allow lawmakers to evaluate current funding, gain insights into potential areas of savings and determine how to more efficiently utilize state funds.

Once this task is complete, lawmakers will start the work of building a new budget and working with the Senate to finalize it over the next month.

We've also spent this week hearing and debating bills in committee, as well as on the House floor.

I presented my first bill to the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Standing Committee, H.B. 218, Nurse Practice Act Amendments. It passed out favorably with a unanimous recommendation and will likely be heard on the House floor next week.

We're making good progress and look forward to hearing your comments and concerns over the course of this 2015 Legislative General Session.