Utah Cap Haps Blog

Friday, February 19, 2016

Week Four Review

Capitol Pic of the Day

Medical Marijuana Update:

SB 89, Medical Cannabidiol Amendments passed the senate second reading with 26 to 3 and is now on the senate third reading calendar where it will be up for final passage. This bill provides limited access to the plant and requires the medical cannabidiol to be high in CBD and low in THC. If this bill passes, it would allow for five dispensaries throughout the state. These dispensaries would have the capacity to serve 10,000 to 20,000 people. Each dispensaries would also have a consultant pharmacist to ensure all aspects of the medical qualities of the dispensaries and their products. It is important to note that if this bill passes, change will not happen overnight. It is estimated that it would take about 18 months before the locations are fully functional. This could be a benefit to the legislature because that means there would be time to study the potential flaws, and then also time to make minor changes in the next session.       

SB 73, Medical Canabis Act is currently circled on the senate second reading calendar, after a robust debate that ran out of time. This bill would allow for broader access to the marijuana plant.  

SCR 11, Concurrent Resolution Urging the Rescheduling of Marijuana.  This resolution urges Congress and the federal government to change the scheduling of marijuana from a schedule I drug to a schedule II drug.  This change would allow more research about the potential benefits of marijuana. Utah has nationally respected research and healthcare facilities, which would allow for this type of research. 


HB 151, Acupuncture Licensing Board Amendments was heard on the Senate floor on Wednesday, and it passed out unanimously. It is now heading to the Governor for his signature.  

HB 289, Charter School Closure Amendments was heard in the House Education committee on Thursday. This vote passed out of the committee unanimously and is now #63 on the House third reading calendar.  This bill will likely be heard on the house floor sometime next week.

HB 351, Attorney General Fiscal Amendments was sent to the Government Operations committee and will most likely be heard sometime early next week.    

HB 397, Department of Administrative Services Revisions was recently numbered and sent to the fiscal analyst's office where it will receive a fiscal note.   

I had the opportunity to chair this week's Salt Lake County Caucus meeting where we previewed the various bills related to air quality. Below is a summary of each bill we discussed.

1. HB 305 Water Rights and Resources Amendments: This bill focuses on the accuracy of water use data. In May 2015, the Utah Division of Water Resources published their water audit for the year, which raised numerous concerns. This bill allows the Division of Water Rights, the Division of Water Resources, and the Division of Drinking Water to work cooperatively to collect and validate water use data. This bill also gives the Division of Water Rights the ability (through rules) to outline the specific process of validating the data.  For now, this bill is currently still in the house rules committee and is waiting to be sent to a standing committee.   

2. HB 237 Income Tax Contribution for Clean Air: This bill establishes the Clean Air Fund where residents and nonresidents who fill out an individual tax return have the option to make a contribution to this fund. The purpose of this fund is to provide grant money for individuals or organizations (in the state) to use towards activities or education programs that help to improve air quality in the state. This bill is currently on the house third reading calendar.            

3. HB 87 Clean Fuel Conversion Amendments: This bill creates the Conversion to Alternative Fuel Grant Program Fund.  This fund consists of both appropriations as well as public and private donations. Grant money is available to a person who installs conversion equipment on an eligible vehicle. The requirements for an eligible vehicle are also outlined in the bill. This bill passed out of the House with 41 yes votes and 28 no votes (6 absent). This bill is currently in the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Committee and will be heard on Monday, February 22nd at 8:00 AM in Capitol Room 415.       

4. HB 121 Building Code Amendments: This bill amends provisions relating the State Constitution Code as well as provides an alternative means of complying with the Energy Conservation Code. This bill is largely supported by a broad group of stakeholders and is currently in the house rules committee, waiting to be sent to a standing committee.        

5. SB 49 Statute of Limitations on Environmental Code Violations: This bill extends the statute of limitations for Title 19 of the Environmental Quality Code. This bill extends the statute of limitations for evaluating and investigating complaints from one year to two years.  This bill passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee where it will likely be heard next week.    

6. SB 66 Environmental Code Fines: This bill increases the civil penalties for a person who violates the Air Conservation Act. The fine amount has not been changed since 1983, so this bill increases the penalties taking into account inflation rates. This bill is currently being held in the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Committee.  

7. HB 250 Air Quality Amendment: This bill allows only ultra low-Nox emissions water heaters to be sold in the state of Utah. These low-Nox water heaters typically cost between $50-150 more than “normal” water heaters and typically last 10-15 years.  If this bill passes, it will apply to all installations and replacements starting July 1, 2018. This bill will be heard in the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality committee.       

8. Air quality appropriations: Bryce Bird (Executive Director, Division of Air Quality) met with the caucus to discuss the importance of the air quality appropriations requests. There are currently five air quality appropriations which include money for research, monitoring, and grants. Here is a chart with the status of all of the appropriations (as of 2/17/16).  

Amount Requested
Appropriations Sub Committee
Rep. Hall
Lab for Dept. of Environmental Quality
Monitoring is the foundation of an effective air quality program.  It is the means by which we evaluate health impacts and protect the public, establish compliance, and measure progress toward our air quality goals.  A modern, dedicated Technical Support Center will help improve the efficiency and reliability of our air monitoring program, while protecting the security of sensitive monitoring equipment and the safety of those who work there.
$6.2 million one-time
Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee
Appropriations Committee recommended $6,208,700
Sen. Jenkins
Air Quality Monitoring
Funding will be used to replace extremely outdated monitoring equipment, that is well beyond its useful life and does not meet EPA requirements, and add new monitoring sites necessary to meet federal monitoring requirements and state planning needs. Request includes ongoing funds for 1 FTE to to cover the operation of these new sites and ongoing equipment replacements and maintenance.
$400,000 ongoing, $2.2  million one-time
Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee
Appropriations Committee recommended $1 million one-time and $200,000 ongoing
Rep. Noel
Funding will be used to replace old and inefficient on and off-road equipment with new technology to reduce emissions of air pollutants. It is anticipated the money will be divided between School Bus, Heavy Diesel and Small Engine replacement projects. Projects are determined by the cost per ton of removing pollutants from our air.
$500,000 one-time
Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee
Not prioritized by the appropriations subcommittee
Rep. Redd and Rep. Arent
Air Quality Research
Funding is for a pilot program to screen for volatile organic compounds (VOC) leaking from oil and gas- condensate storage tanks. This will be done in partnership agreement with Tri-County Health Department and Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center. The goal is to determine a simple, straightforward method to help improve air quality in the Uinta Basin.
$250,000 one-time
Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee
Appropriations Committee recommended $100,000 one-time
Rep. Handy
Clean Fuel Bus Conversion
Continuing an initiative begun two years ago, the request for $10 million (General Fund) would be matched through a grant process administered by USOE to districts who apply. There are 308 "dirty diesel buses" in the state school system that are 2002 and older. This $20 million clean air initiative would replace 119 school buses.
$10 million one-time
Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee


There have only been a few bills heard in committee this week. I anticipate many more next week. One of the four bills addressing homelessness was heard this week and passed out favorably. The four bills are part of the $27M package proposed by the stakeholders who worked together to address homeless issues over the past couple of years.

To see a list of the bills heard in my assigned committees, click on the committee respective page below.

House Transportation Standing Committee


Our appropriations subcommittees are finished meeting and this week, the chairs of each of the nine subcommittees presented their budget recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee. Please note that these reports reflect recommendations only. The final numbers and budget items that get funded may or many not reflect these recommendations. This is because these recommendations are based off of last Fall's revenue estimates. Updated, revised estimates will dictate how much is available to appropriate.

Here is a list of each of the committee's reports:

1. Retirement and Independent Entities
2. Business, Economic Development and Labor
3. Social Services
4. Public Education
5. Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality
6. Infrastructure and General Government
7. Executive Offices and Criminal Justice
8. Higher Education
9. Executive Appropriations Committee Assigned Agencies

Next week, the newly revised revenue estimates will be published and the new number will represent the number against which all requests must balance. New prioritized lists will then follow. I will post them here once they become available.


On Tuesday, February 16th, the house and senate took time to recognize the families of fallen officer Doug Barney, as well as Officer Jon Richey.  Every member of the house and senate wore blue and black ribbons that day in their honor.  We also presented Officer Barney’s family and Officer Jon Richey with a citation.  Our law enforcement officers and their families sacrifice a lot in order to keep us safe, so it was an honor to be able to recognize them.  

 Wednesday, February 17th, was Multicultural Youth Leadership Day on the hill.  I was lucky enough to present an award to Dr. Kyle Reyes from Utah Valley University.  

On Thursday, February 18th, some colleagues and I were able to meet with a group of students from Weber State University. The students asked questions about our particular bills, as well as the legislative process as a whole.