Utah Cap Haps Blog

Monday, June 29, 2015

June Legislative Updates

Capitol Pic of the Day

The Legislature met for interim meetings on June 17th and June 24th. In the Conservative Caucus meeting, we heard an overview of a scientific research study on air quality and its impact on health. The study validated the need to address air quality.

The House Majority Caucus heard an update on the Prison Relocation Commission's (PRC) activities, as well as a status update on Medicaid expansion.

The PRC held multiple open houses to hear public input. The screening process uses weighted criteria to assess site suitability. Click here for the last report reflecting how the proposed sites were selected. The Commission will present the engineering and environmental studies results in July and prepare a site recommendation for the Legislature and Governor in August. 

As for Medicaid expansion, the "gang of six" (Governor Herbert, Lt. Governor Cox, Senate President Niederhauser, Senator Shiozawa, Speaker Hughes, and Majority Leader Dunnigan) met with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in late May. They will continue to evaluate solutions over the next month.

Government Operations Interim Committee - Our committee was assigned two major tasks during the interim period. One is to evaluate options to address the plurality issue. An issue that occurs when there are multiple winners in a primary and no one receives a majority vote. 

The other is to address state school board elections, an issue that didn't get resolved during the general session. Consequently, miscellaneous reports that are typically heard in the Fall, were heard in May and June. 

We received an update from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on the various programs they have available and the initiatives they are working on. If you or someone you know is a veteran, please share this link with them. There are a lot of resources available to assist veterans in this state. Also take a look at the newsletter to see the many veterans events that are taking place this summer. 

As for the plurality issue, we evaluated the following options so far. 

1) Preferential voting - Ranked choice voting
2) Party choice - Party decides nominee 
3) Runoff elections - Voters vote multiple times until there is a winner
4) Do nothing

Over the coming months, we will continue to look at potential solutions to address this issue. 

Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee - The committee heard a presentation from the Department of Workforce Services which provided an overview of their programs

We also heard an update on the Intergenerational Poverty Five and Ten Year Plan. Multiple state agencies are working together to develop a long term plan to address intergenerational poverty. 

The committee will continue to study this item going forward. The full report may be viewed here

Retirement and Independent Entities Interim Committee - The committee heard an overview of the Utah Retirement Systems, a performance audit (Response), and policy issues related to post-retirement employment restrictions. We opened up two bill files to address transparency improvements and post-retirement employment restrictions. We will revisit these bills in future meetings. 

June interim highlights in more detail for all of the interim committees may be found here


It was a pleasure to celebrate with two constituents who earned the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship award. 

Congratulations to Johnson Huynh and Ana Soto. They were selected among a competitive pool of students across the state. 

These two individuals from West Valley City were recognized for their leadership skills, academic achievement, and a commitment to community services. This is a great contribution that Comcast makes to the community.

Earlier this month, I was interviewed by Fox13 News about my participation on an undercover raid with the Attorney General's Office. I learned a lot about the great work Attorney General Sean Reyes and his team are doing to mitigate human trafficking in Utah and I gained a deep appreciation for what they do for the taxpayers in this state. View the interview here

On another note, the Utah Search and Rescue Assistance Card that was established through HB324 will be available soon. The Office of Outdoor Recreation is working with the Search and Rescue Advisory Board to implement the card and they anticipate rolling it out to the public in the next couple of weeks. Check out the recent Trib Talk on this topic.