Utah Cap Haps Blog

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Week Four Review

Capitol Pic of the Day

Past the half way mark. 

The House floor was excited to welcome members of our national delegation to give us an update on some of the things they are working on in Washington D.C. Senator Orin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, and Congresswoman Mia Love shared similar messages of Utah pride and the need to make sure Utah's priorities are heard and represented in Washington. 

For an explanation of each bill, see last week's blog post or click on the hyperlinked bill title.  Below highlights the status of my bills. (For a quick review of how a bill becomes law, Click Here.) 

HB 218, Nurse Practice Act Amendments - This bill was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives and was unanimously passed out of the Senate Business and Labor Committee. It is now headed to the Senate floor. Assuming it is passed by the Senate, it would then go to the Governor for his signature. (View my initiation as a freshman legislator presenting my first bill here.

HB 312, Reporting and Expenditure of Public Funds Amendments - This bill is waiting for a fiscal note response and will be assigned to a House Standing Committee some time next week. 

HB 324, Search and Rescue Financial Assistance Amendments - This bill received a fiscal note response and will be assigned to a House Standing Committee some time next week. 



We reviewed only a few bills in standing committees in week four. Most notably, our Retirement and Independent Entities committee heard Rep. Paul Ray's HB 288, Line-of-Duty Death Benefits for Peace Officers and Firefighters, a bill to increase the financial support provided to the spouses of fallen officers and firefighters (Fox13News story). That bill was given a favorable recommendation and will be heard on the House floor some time next week. 

To see a list of bills that have been reviewed by my assigned standing committees, you can click on these links (also listed on the side of this blog). 

House Transportation Standing Committee
House Retirement and Independent Entities Standing Committee
House Economic Development and Workforce Services Standing Committee


Our appropriations subcommittee recommendations were presented to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) on Feb. 5th and 6th

From now through the rest of this session, all budget activity will be addressed through EAC. Over the next couple of weeks, we will see a list of items that will be ranked by priority for funding. I will post the lists on this blog once they are available. There are typically five categories of budget bills that are appropriated each session: 1) Base budget bills, 2) Compensation and Rate Adjustments, 3) Supplemental Appropriations (current year), 4) New Year Appropriations, 5) Appropriations Adjustments (Bill of Bills). 

Here are the bill numbers. Most of the budget bills are not yet drafted. 

Base Budget bills:
H.B. 1 Substitute -- Higher Education Base Budget (Rep. Grover, K.)
H.B. 5 -- Retirement & Independent Entities Base Budget (Rep. Powell, K.)
H.B. 6 Substitute -- Infrastructure & General Gov't Base Budget (Rep. Froerer, G.)
H.B. 7 Substitute -- National Guard, Veterans' Affairs, & Leg. Base Budget (Rep. Sanpei, D.)
S.B. 1 Substitute -- Public Education Base Budget Amendments (Sen. Stephenson, H.)
S.B. 5 Substitute -- Natural Resources, Ag., & Environ. Quality Base Budget (Sen. Hinkins, D.)
S.B. 6 Substitute -- Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Base Budget (Sen. Thatcher, D.)
S.B. 7 Substitute -- Social Services Base Budget (Sen. Christensen, A.)

Upcoming Budget bills (Not yet numbered):
Appropriations Adjustments
Current Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations
Current School Year Supplemental 
Public Education Budget Adjustments
New Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations
Education Compensation Appropriations
State Agency and Higher Education Compensation Appropriations
State Agency Fees & Internal Service Fund Rate Auth. & Approps
Revenue Bond and Capital Facilities Amendments 


There are many caucus meetings to attend and not enough time to attend them all. To name a few, there is a Rural Caucus, Freshman Caucus, Sushi Caucus, Public Lands Caucus, Labor Caucus, Conservative Caucus, etc. The two I rarely miss are the House Republican Caucus and the Salt Lake County Caucus meetings. Two weighty issues were discussed this week in these two caucuses.

Medicaid Expansion:

The House Republican Caucus revisited the debate on Medicaid expansion options. The caucus was unable to come out with a position on any side. The Utah Cares option (medically frail) was introduced in more detail, along with Healthy Utah.

Senator Shiozawa's SB 164, Access to Healthcare Amendments (Healthy Utah), passed out of the Senate standing committee and is headed to the Senate floor for debate. Senator Christensen's SB 153, Access to Healthcare (Utah Cares) also passed out of the Senate standing committee and is headed to the Senate floor for debate. The version that survives the Senate floor will then come before a House standing committee before it can move on to the House floor for debate.

I anticipate further negotiations between all parties involved over the next week.

Transportation Funding:

The Salt Lake County caucus, attended by state and local elected leaders in the county, had a robust discussion about transportation funding. To get a good context of the transportation issue, you can view this Speaker Q&A interview . Two bills are moving through the process right now.

Senator Vantassell's SB 160, Transportation Funding Amendments adds 10 cents to the existing motor fuel tax. This bill passed out of a Senate committee and is on its way to the Senate floor for debate.

Rep. Johnny Anderson's bill, HB 362, Transportation Infrastructure Funding, takes a more comprehensive approach to address transportation funding issues and incorporates local options as well as formulaic changes. This bill was recently numbered and is waiting for a House standing committee hearing.

I anticipate continued robust dialogue on this as the two bills move through the process.


Due to my previous service on the Utah Multicultural Commission, I was asked to help emcee the annual Multicultural Commission Youth Leadership Day on the Hill. 

It was a wonderful opportunity to welcome over 800 6th-9th grade kids to the Capitol in an effort to empower them and encourage them to be engaged citizens in their communities.

As we move into week five of the 2015 General Session, I'm looking forward to seeing more progress on my bills, as well as on some of the tougher issues we've been preparing to face. Please contact me with any questions or concerns.