Utah Cap Haps Blog

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Week Three Review

Happy Valentines Day!

Capitol Pic of the Day
So much to say and so little time to say it. Week three of the 2015 General Session has come to a close. We had some great debates on the House floor. To see how I voted on various bills, please click here, find the bill of interest and click on status. There you can find how many yes/no votes there were and how each member voted. If you have any questions about why I voted the way I did on a particular bill, please don't hesitate to contact me. There is often context behind some of these bills that are not conveyed by the vote on the bill, so please contact me if you have a question.

I'm looking forward to the last few weeks of the session. Please continue to reach out to me with your questions and concerns, and pass the word on to your friends and neighbors to fill out my survey.


HB 218, Nurse Practice Act Amendments - This bill updates the organizations that may accredit a Utah nursing program and it authorizes the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) to establish, by rule, a solution to address situations in which a nursing program loses its accreditation status. Right now, DOPL does not have authority to address situations in which a nursing program loses its accreditation status. This bill provides that authority and requires DOPL to work with the Board of Nursing to establish the rule. 

HB 312, Reporting and Expenditure of Public Funds Amendments - This bill requires reporting on how certain grants are spent. Every year, there are various requests for appropriations for miscellaneous regional projects and there is currently no required mechanism to capture information on how 100% of those state funds are actually spent. The intent of this bill is to increase accountability for these funds.

HB 324, Search and Rescue Financial Assistance Amendments - This bill creates the Utah Search and Rescue Assistance Card (USARAC). Right now, if you are rescued by a search and rescue team, you may be billed for the costs incurred of the rescue. This bill creates a card that may be purchased, for a rate established by the advisory board, that would free you from that potential liability. It is a voluntary program that will help generate funds for search and rescue teams across the state. 

HB 218 passed out of a House standing committee favorably with a unanimous vote. It will likely be presented early next week on the House floor. If it passes next week, it will go to a Senate standing committee next, before it is debated on the Senate floor for final passage. Both HB 312 and HB 324 have been introduced to the House and were sent to the Rules Committee to be prioritized for a Standing Committee hearing. I am hopeful to have them placed on an agenda either later this week, or early next week. 


We finalized our committee priorities and budget recommendations that will be presented to the Executive Appropriations Committee. To see a list of which items were recommended by the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, click here. To see the list of items recommended by the Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations Subcommittee, click here

For the other appropriations committees that I do not sit on, I thought it would be convenient to post them here for your perusal. Keep in mind that at this point, these lists are simply recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC), which is made up of legislative leadership of both parties and both House and Senate. EAC will have final say on which items ultimately get funded. Final revenue estimates will come out late next week or early the following week and they will know exactly how much money is on the table. I will post the final lists on this blog once they are available. 



We heard some great bills in our Transportation committee over the week. Most notably was HB 275, Highway Designation Amendments (Rep. Fawson), which designates I-84 as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway. As part of the presentation, we were visited by Purple Heart recipients from each branch of the military. It was an honor to hear from them and to honor them in this way. 
Purple Heart Recipients from Each Branch of Military

To see a list of bills that have been reviewed by my assigned standing committees, you can click on these links: 

House Transportation Standing Committee


In our caucus meetings this week, we talked about the different transportation funding options that are being considered. We also talked about the different options for electing our state school board members. Last week, we touched on Medicaid expansion, and I believe we may hear more about health care reform in the coming weeks. If you're interested in what the leadership buzz is, you can follow the Utah Representatives YouTube channel by clicking here

To get a glimpse of these big issues, I thought it might be helpful to list out the options so far. Not all of the bills are numbered, but here is a list of what is out at this time: 


[Local Options] HB XXX, County Transportation Funding Amendments (Rep. Anderson) 



[Governor Herbert's Healthy Utah] SB 164, Access to Health Care Amendments (Sen. Shiozawa)
[Medically Frail] SB 153, Access to Health Care (Sen. Christensen)
[Medically Frail] HB XXX Amendments to Medicaid (Rep. Dunnigan) 
[Add to Current Program w/ Max Fed Rate] HB 307, Medicaid Expansion Provisions (Rep. Spendlove) 


I had the opportunity to co-host the Red Meat Radio show with Senator Todd Weiler on Saturday morning. We intereveiwed Rep. Becky Edwards, Robert Gehrke, Sen. Jim Dabakis, Val Hale, Sen. Al Jackson and Sen. Margaret Dayton. It was a lot of fun to recap the various session activities with them.

To Sen. Dayton's point, many forget about the meaning of what many call President's Day. She reminded us that in Utah, it is officially Washington and Lincoln Day. To that end, have a happy Washington and Lincoln Day break!