Utah Cap Haps Blog

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Week Six Review

Capitol Pic of the Day
As we wind down, we wind up. With just one week left, there is much left to do. Here is a quick update on the big issues facing us this session, prefaced by the District 31 survey results.

1. Increase Income Tax and Education Funding:  152
Oppose 65 43%
Support 40 26%
Undecided 28 18%

Status Summary [Dead]: The bill that proposed to increase income tax for education funding died in committee early in the session. There are no more proposals being discussed to do this. 

2. State School Board Elections:  152
Governor Appoints 10 7%
Partisan 16 11%
Nonpartisan 110 72%
Undecided 9 6%
Other 7 5%

Status Summary [In Progress]: The three options that were debated in the House floor last week were 1) SB104 - partisan, 2) HJR16 - Governor appointment, and 3) HB186, non-partisan. Take a look at last week's blog update to get the overview of each bill. I voted for the non-partisan option and it was the only bill to pass out of the House. It will now move to the Senate Education Standing Committee on Tuesday morning. Here is the agenda.

3. Medicaid Expansion:  152
Adopt Healthy Utah 52 34%
Adopt Utah Cares  32 21%
Status Quo 29 19%
Undecided 38 25%

Status Summary [In Progress]: The House Rules Committee voted unanimously (Republicans and Democrats) to refer Healthy Utah (SB164) and the Utah Cares (HB446) alternative to the House Business and Labor Standing Committee, where Healthy Utah died and Utah Cares was advanced to the House floor. On March 5th, there was a motion made to lift SB164 out of Rules and place it into the House floor for debate. I was one of the four Republicans to vote yes.  The attempt to have it heard on the floor ultimately failed 16-56.

House Business and Labor Standing Committee

Motion to Lift Healthy Utah to be Heard on House Floor
Healthy Utah Rally

On Friday, Utah Cares (HB446) was presented and there was a motion to substitute it to insert Healthy Utah into the bill. This attempt also failed by 22-52-1. In the end, the House passed Utah Cares (HB446) by 26-18-1. Click here for the debate.

Motion to Substitute to Incorporate Healthy Utah 

I voted to support Healthy Utah on both motions because it is the option my constituents wanted. It is by far the biggest issue we are dealing with this session. I believe this is the biggest issue the Legislature has dealt with over the past decade. When it failed, I voted for the alternative plan because it was the most viable option to make it out of the House and it was better than doing nothing. 

Final Passage for Utah Cares
Utah Cares will now go to the Senate and there will need to be a compromises made if something is to be done this session. The parties involved will continue to talk about compromise (Channel 4 story). Here is a comparison of the two plans:

4. Daylight Savings 152
Do away with 60 39%
Status Quo 58 38%
Keep Daylight All Year 26 17%
Undecided 8 5%

Status Summary [Dead]: The bill proposing to make changes to Daylight Savings is not moving forward and will not be heard this session. It doesn't look like the issue will be going away, however. It may end up on a voter ballot in the future (Fox13 Story). 

5. Candidate Nomination Process:  152
Amend to fix 38 25%
Honor agreement and leave alone 53 35%
Repeal and revert 34 22%
Undecided 27 18%

Status Summary [Dead]: Click here for a refresher/overview of last year's SB54, the County My Vote/Current Caucus compromise.The bill that would provide an extension to last year's SB54 provisions died in the Senate. Take a look at last week's blog update for details.  

6. Transfer of Public Lands:  152
Oppose 49 32%
Support 77 51%
Undecided 26 17%

Status Summary [In Progress]: There are several bills related to the transfer of public lands that are in progress - HB303, SB48, HB132, and SB105. Based on feedback from my constituents, I will be supporting these bills if I haven't already. 

7. Transportation Funding:  152
Do nothing; status quo 53 35%
Raise gas tax 47 31%
Reform formula 36 24%
User tax 5 3%
Undecided 6 4%
Other 5 3%

Status Summary [In Progress]: The two bills (SB160 and HB362) are in motion and changes are forthcoming to incorporate improvements that have been agreed upon by the stakeholders involved. See last week's blog update for details on these proposals. 

8. Non-discrimination:  152
Oppose 29 19%
Support 99 65%
Undecided/Neutral 23 15%

Status Summary [In Progress]: SB296, Anti-discrimination and Religious Amendments was introduced last week in a press conference. This bill is a consensus bill that has the support of all parties involved. It merges both religious protections as well as non-discrimination provisions into one bill. Click here for a quick overview of what the bill does. HB322, Religious Liberty and Nondiscrimination Protection is another bill that is on the House 3rd reading calendar and will likely be debated early this upcoming week. HB322 does not have the consensus support that SB296 has as this point.

9. Religious Liberty 150
Oppose 27 18%
Support 110 73%
Undecided 12 8%

Status Summary [In Progress]: See #8 as the two issues have been merged into a couple of proposals. 

10. Your Budget Priorities Ranked: 
Decrease class sizes 1
Teacher compensation 2
Increase technology in schools 3
Increase WPU 4
Teacher training and professional development  5
Increase concurrent enrollment for college credit 6

Status Summary [In Progress]: See updates in the appropriations section of this blog post. 

Here is a copy of the results: 

Rep. Sophia DiCaro's 2015 Legislative Survey


HB218, Nurse Practice Act Amendments - This bill is now completed and in the process of being enrolled. 

HB312, Reporting and Expenditure of Public Funds Amendments - This bill passed out of the House floor unanimously and is on it's way to the Senate Government Operations Standing Committee on Monday, March 9th. Click here for the agenda. 

HB324, Search and Rescue Financial Assistance Amendments This bill also passed out of the House floor unanimously and is on it's way to the Senate Business and Labor Standing Committee the  on Tuesday, March 10th. Click here for the agenda. I also incorporated an amendment to provide a discount to the anglers and boaters who have been contributing to the existing fund. 

We held some bills, and passed some out and I've been appreciative of the public input and vetting on a lot of these bills. The committees do listen and take into account the input that is voiced and it often results in better legislation in the end. 

To see a list of bills reviewed by my assigned standing committees, click on the links below. 

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


Of the many legislative gyrations that Utah lawmakers will go through this session, none is more critical than producing a balanced budget. The Executive Appropriations Committee met on Friday and announced the master funding listMany hours have been spent hearing, debating and refining hundreds of funding requests. 

Here are some general highlights with some caveats: 1) Final, final numbers will be approved some time next week; 2) Utah is constitutionally required to balance it's budget; and 3) the Executive Appropriations Committee puts together the final budget, but the Legislature still must approve it.  


  • $50 million to fully fund enrollment growth
  • $104 million added to the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU), a 4% increase. This represents the largest increase to public education since 2008.
  • Higher education will receive $170 million in appropriations to fund new buildings, which represents a big investment in higher education infrastructure. 
  • State employees will receive a 3% 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 beginning in 2016, as recommended by an independent evaluation commission. 
  • $15.3 million will carry out a major Justice Reinvestment Initiative. About two-thirds of those monies ($10.2 million) will go for a re-visioning of Adult Probation and Parole and for improving the transition and supervision of inmates leaving the incarceration path. The remaining one-third ($5.1 million) will support community-based treatment using best practices for those leaving incarceration and reentering the community. 


The House Republican Caucus heard an update on the federal lands exchange initiative as well as updates on the transportation funding proposals. With respect to the federal lands proposals, there are a number of bills coming forward to continue down the path of transferring federal lands to the State of Utah (see #7 in the survey results section of this update for a list of bills). 

As it relates to transportation funding,support is building behind the HB362 as it is a more comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges that exists at both the state and local levels regarding the current formula and limitations tied to certain buckets of revenue sources. There are some changes being proposed to HB362 that will be incorporated next week that address the applied rate and volatility inherent in adopting a rate structure. 


Neon Trees visited the House the other day. It was great to recognize and celebrate a local Utah band 

It was great to greet the Boy Scouts from West Valley City as well. They had the chance to listen to the debate on the state school board elections. Their visit was perfect timing. 

On Friday, I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker for the Utah Women in Global Business and Trade Conference. It was an honor to recognize Natalie Kaddas of Kaddas Enterprises for the 2015 Utah International Business Woman of the Year award. She is a great example of how a small business owner can grow their bottom line through international trade. We have some wonderful women in Utah who are making a name for the State and we should do more to recognize them for the great contributions they make. 

I've had the opportunity to host some special guests on the floor with me this session. My son, Anton joined me on the House floor on Friday. It's always fun to see young minds learn about the process and see their reactions to what we do. My nephew was shocked that I spend all day listening to people talk, talk, talk. I suppose it makes me a better listener. One thing I am certain of is that early involvement is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to voter participation. Bring your family to the Capitol for a tour, help your kids learn more about the process, and stay involved!