Utah Cap Haps Blog

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Week Seven Review

Capitol Pic of the Day

The Legislature has two primary roles. One is to pass laws and the other is to appropriate public funds. This post will provide a high level summary snapshot on both areas.

There was a lot of attention around a few targeted policy issues. Much of the time, we hear reactions from the first version of a bill that surfaces. Often, a bill is substituted or amended to address concerns that are brought forward and it can be a challenge to stay up to speed on where the stakeholders are on the various renditions of proposed legislation. On controversial bills, it is common to see multiple substitutes.

Some of the bills that garnered the most emails, phone calls, and citizen engagement included the repeal of the death penalty, medical marijuana, and the market place fairness legislation dealing with sales tax on internet purchases. In the end, these bills did not make it through the 2016 session.

To see a full list of passed bills, click here.
To see a summary of what each passed bill does, click here.

Capitol Pic of the Day

Article VI, Section 16 of our Utah Constitution, requires the Legislature to complete its business within 45 days. Consequently, there are many bills that don't pass simply due to running out of time. The upside to this deadline is that it forces us to face tough decisions and to balance our budget within the time parameters given. At the federal level of government, there are is not such a fixed deadline, which leads to kicking the can down the road and lacking the discipline to balance the budget. The downside is that there are many bills that die from running out of time. Here is a summary of my bills:

HB 151, Acupuncture Licensing Board Amendments Passed

HB 289 s1, Charter School Closure Amendments Passed

HB 351, Attorney General Fiscal Amendments Passed

HB 397, Department of Administrative Services Ran out of time

The following bills reflect senate bills that I co-sponsored on the House floor.

SB 185, Labor Remedy Amendments Passed

SB 56, Nurse Practice Act Passed

SB 125, After School Programs Amendments Passed

SCR 18, Concurrent Resolution Designating Official Hashtag for the State of Utah Ran out of time

Capitol Pic of the Day

The state appropriates its budget on an incremental basis. The Legislature spends most of its time evaluating adjustments and add-ons to the base budget. I've itemized each of the budget bills below, however, if you are searching for a particular item, it is better to refer to the cross-tab reference lists  here: Budget List 1 and Budget List 2.

Here is a snapshot of the overall budget picture. As you can see, the majority of our budget is allocated to education.

Here is a list of the budget bills

HB 1, Public Education Base Budget 
HB 5, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Base Budget
HB 6, Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Base Budget 
HB 7, Social Services Base Budget
SB1, Higher Education Base Budget
SB 4, Business, Economic Development, and Labor Base Budget  
SB 5, Retirement and Independent Entities Base Budget
SB 6, Infrastructure and General Goverment Base Budget
SB 7, National Guard and Veterans' Affairs and Legislature Base Budget

HB 2, New Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations Act
SB 2, Public Education Budget Amendments 
SB 3, Current Year Supplemental Appropriations
HB 3, Appropriations Adjustments

SB 8, State Agency and Higher Education Compensation Appropriations (2% salary increase)
HB 8, State Agency Fees and Internal Service Fund Rate Authorization and Appropriations
HB 9, Revenue Bond Amendments 

The Legislature also proposed a bill requiring more scrutiny on the miscellaneous requests for appropriations that come forward every year. This would help the legislature make better decisions when it comes to hearing requests for appropriations and it would increase accountability.  SJR 9, Joint Rules Resolution on Request for Appropriations Process Change. The bill passed out of the House and unfortunately, we ran out of time and it didn't get through to passage.


There were a lot of visits from scout troops and school children across the state. One of things I enjoy is talking with the school kids about the legislative process and the importance of being involved in the community. I love seeing the kids enjoy their visit to the Capitol.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Week Six Review

Capitol Pic of the Day

The 2016 legislative survey results are available and posted here. Take a look and see how the constituents of House District 31 feel about some of the big issues heard during this session.

Medical Marijuana Update:
This Monday, March 7th, HCR 3, SB 73 and SB 89 will be heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee at 10:00 AM in senate building room 210. Click here to listen live at that time.

Medicaid Update:
Representative Dunnigan’s HB 437 Health Care Revisions was heard on the House floor Friday afternoon. It passed out with 55 yes votes, 17 no votes, and three absent. This bill has the support of many in the community, including Mayor McAdams and Mayor Biskupski. This was a compromise bill that will allow the state to help the most vulnerable in need of health care assistance. It captures homeless individuals, childless adults in extreme poverty, people with mental health and substance abuse challenges and it compliments the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in that sense. The bill has a 70/30 match rate (70 federal/30 state), which will allow the state to have more flexibility to customize the plan to Utah's unique needs, compared to if the state matched less than 30 percent. Hospitals will cover a substantial portion of the 30 percent state share.

HB 289 s1, Charter School Closure Amendments is currently on the senate second reading calendar and should be heard sometime early on Monday. After it passes the third reading calendar, it will be sent to the governor to sign.    
HB 351, Attorney General Fiscal Amendments passed out of the House early in the week and is in the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee. It is on the agenda to be heard on Monday, March 7th at 4:16 PM in Capitol room 415.

HB 397, Department of Administrative Services passed out of the house earlier this week and is in the Senate Revenue and Taxation committee. Click here for more information on the committee.     

SB 56, Nurse Practice Act was heard in the House Education committee on Wednesday (March 2nd). It was heard on the House floor on Friday and passed out unanimously. It is now being sent to the governor for his signature.  

SB 185, Labor Remedy Amendments is a bill that increases damages for discrimination cases in matters of compensation. Increasing the damages in these cases enables the party to be incentivized to keep the case in the state where it can be adjudicated by the Labor Commission, rather than in through federal courts. This provides a more cost effective and more efficient process for both employers and employees. This bill passed out of the Senate and was heard in the House Business and Labor committee on Thursday (March 3rd). It is now on the House third reading calendar and will likely be heard early next week.


Salt Lake County Caucus

Capitol Pic of the Day
The Salt Lake County Caucus heard about transportation-related bills. Below is a brief summary of the issues discussed.


1. Unified Transportation Plan 2015-2014: Andrew Gruber (Wasatch Front Regional Council): Utah is among the fastest growing states in the country and is fifth in the nation for growth percentage since 2010. The Unified Transportation Plan takes into account all of this growth and provides a plan for the state. It looks at the demands on our infrastructure including new road and transit projects. Click here to learn more about Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan.  
2. HB 296 - Transportation Funding Revisions: Rep. Anderson: This bill modifies state sales and use tax earmarks for transportation. The Division of Finance would be required to annually transfer a certain amount of revenue from the Transportation Fund to the Transportation Investment Fund. This transfer of funds would allow for more money to be available for future projects. Overall, this bill brings more honesty to where transportation money is going and what it is doing. This bill passed out of the House and is currently in the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology committee.
3. HB 209 - Public Transit District Board County Amendments: Rep. Anderson, Sen. Shiozawa: This bill amends the membership of the UTA Board of Trustees. Salt Lake County lost some of its population to the unincorporated areas which changes the dynamics of the board. This bill also allows us to look at the UTA governance. Over the next year, there will be a study to look at the board. This bill passed the house and is currently on the senate second reading calendar.     
4. HB 431 - Affordable Housing Revisions: Rep. Edwards: This bill defines affordable housing as housing that meets the needs of those up to 60% of the annual median income. There are joint plans laid out for areas within half a mile of transit stations. For these transit-supportive development projects, the transit district will work with the metropolitan planning organization, city, and county where the project is located. This is a collaborative effort to create joint plans for these areas. This bill is currently on the house third reading calendar.
5. SB 80 - Infrastructure Funding Amendments: Sen. Adams, Rep. Perry: This bill redirects a certain sales and use tax revenue from the Transportation Fund to the Water Infrastructure Restricted Account. If this bill passes, the amount transferred between accounts would be 1/16%. The 1/16% equals about $35.7 million. If this bill passes, it will take effect on July 1, 2016. This bill is currently circled and on the house third reading calendar and will probably be heard soon.            

Land Use

6. HB 318 - Point of the Mountain Development Commission Act: Rep. Wilson, Sen. Stevenson: This bill creates the Point of the Mountain Development Commission, make up of a 15 member commission which would include appointees from the House, Senate, Governor’s Office, and county officials. The commission will evaluate, study, prepare reports so that they can make recommendations about the future planning and development in the point of the mountain area. The commission will only make advisory recommendations and will not have tax or land use authority. This bill passed out of the house and is currently on the senate second reading calendar.
7. HB 360 - Land Use Amendments: Rep. Brown, Sen. Van Tassell: This bill requires counties and municipalities to publish certain land use ordinance information. Specifically, the counties shall give notice if the proposed land use ordinance enacts stricter requirements or higher standards. This bill passed out of the House and is currently on the Senate second reading calendar.

Online Sales Tax

8. SB 182 - Sales and Use Tax Revisions: Sen. Harper, Rep. McKell:  This bill expands on existing law requirements related to internet sales purchases. There are numerous states that have enacted similar bills and many more are currently in the process. The intent of these bills is to assure congress that almost all of the states are on board. This bill passed out of the senate and is now in the house revenue and taxation committee.
9. HB 235 - Remote Transactions Parity Act: Rep. McKell: Under current Utah law, everyone is already required to pay a sales and use tax on all sales (whether brick and mortar or online). If the tax is not paid at the time of purchase, it is to be remitted as part of one’s Utah income tax return. The problem is that few Utahns are doing the latter, leading to an estimated $180 million lost in uncollected sales tax revenues (in this last year alone). This bill would have online retailers calculate the Utah sales tax during the checkout process, and then remit to the state, bringing consumers into compliance with existing state law and creating market fairness. Rep. McKell is proposing to lower the overall sales tax rate so that it would be revenue neutral and not a burden to the taxpayers. If this bill passes, it would have an effective date of January 1, 2017.  This bill is currently circled on the house third reading calendar.     


SB 100, Traffic Fines Amendments, also known as the "Mantua bill," has garnered a lot of attention in the press. It requires cities and towns to remit any speeding ticket revenue that is over 25% of their budget. Any amount exceeding 25% would be redirected to the state's General Fund. The committee voted 7 to 1 to hold the bill and return it to Rules.

To check out some other bills, click on one of the committees below.

House Transportation Standing Committee


Our House Majority Caucus distributed a budget document that reflected the priorities of each of the appropriation subcommittee chairs. Later, the Executive Appropriations Committee met and distributed the first list (see last list).

Click here for the official February revenue estimates.

Click here for consolidated motions that reflect internal reallocations and intent language for how certain appropriations are to be used.

Click here for the additional one-time and ongoing sources of revenue.

Click here for the long awaited list of items that received funding.

There will be another appropriations bill, called the "Bill of Bills" where bills with fiscal notes get funded, as well as other miscellaneous items that didn't make the first list. I will be sure to post the final list on this blog as well, in an effort to show all of the items that received funding.


On Monday, February 29th I met with a small group of undergraduates and graduate students who belong to the American Nuclear Society (ANS) student section. We discussed the role of nuclear science and its future potential. It was great to meet with such bright and engaged students from BYU, USU, and the UofU.

Also on Monday, February 28th, the House paid tribute to families of fallen Utah soldiers. “We are committed to remembering that the preservation of our liberty comes at a price, and that price is often paid by young men and women who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives of innocent people in lands far from home,” a clerk read from the official citation in part. Rep. Fawson, who served in the military and was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, said “I wish to comfort those who still mourn, to give light to those whose pathways may be dark, to offer hope to all who look forward to a brighter day, to echo the voice of those who are no longer with us, and to express love.” “As your lawmakers and your representatives, you need to know that we are here and that we are your voice,” said Speaker Hughes.

On Tuesday, March 1st, I had the honor of inviting Pastor Jaime Moreno and Rich Beaudoin to lead the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance on the house floor. Pastor Jaime is a pastor at Mt. Calvary Family Worship Center in West Valley City.

Thursday, March 3rd, was Girl Scouts Day on the Hill. This is one of the representatives favorite themed days because it means endless Girl Scouts cookies in the kitchens. We recognized four young women for receiving the highest Girl Scouts award. In order to earn their Gold Award these young women completed 30 hours of leadership work, 40 hours of career exploration, as well as executing their own project that has a sustainable impact. These women’s projects included making homestay bags for foster kids, starting a youth reading camp for first to fourth graders, starting a ski and snowboard gear donation program, and designing a coloring book to teach children in Central America about dental hygiene. These women are amazing and we were lucky to be able to host them at the Capitol!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

2016 Legislative Survey Results and Status Updates

Capitol Pic of the Day

With only four days left of the 2016 General Session, now is a good time to publish the feedback that has come forward. In addition to the survey below, I collected feedback and comments from the five town hall meetings that were held throughout the session. There will be a post session town hall meeting on March 19th (2pm at WVC Fitness Center), where I will go over these results and highlight some key policy changes out of the session.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the constituents who took the time to do the survey and express their opinions on a few important issues that surfaced this year. I also appreciate the time they prioritized to attend the town halls. Below are the results of the 2016 legislative survey, which reflect 150 respondents.



In Utah, funding for public education comes from income tax. Which of the following would you like the Utah Legislature to consider regarding education funding?

- Raise income taxes (100% of state income tax goes to education)
- Bolster job creation policies that will generate more income tax to fund education
- Limit income tax deductions for dependent children

Medical Marijuana

Should Utah consider legalizing medical marijuana?

- Broad access to the whole plant, including psycho active and addictive components such as THC
- Limited access to components most beneficial to medical treatments (includes cannabidiol but not THC)
- Allow no access

Medicaid Expansion

At what level do you support or oppose Medicaid expansion in Utah?

- Full expansion
- Partial expansion
- No expansion
Air Quality

Do you think that Utah's air quality requirements should be:

- Much stricter
- Stricter
- More lenient
- Much more lenient

Water Infrastructure

Do you support or oppose increased funding to increase Utah's water infrastructure such as reservoirs, watersheds and water distribution systems?

- Supportive
- Neutral
- Opposed

Right to Die

A death with dignity proposal may come forward. Should doctors be allowed to prescribe medication intended to end one's life, in cases where someone is terminally ill?

- Yes
- No
- Undecided

Public Lands

Roughly 70% of Utah's land is owned by the federal government. Recently, the State of Utah has made an effort to acquire ownership of this land. Do you support efforts to turn this land's ownership and management to the State of Utah?

- Yes
- No
- Undecided

Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings Time has been a controversial topic for many years. Those who want no Daylight Savings Time say it's bothersome to change time twice a year. Those who want to keep it say it provides more daylight hours in the summer for things like farming and recreating, and without it the sun would rise before 5am. In your opinion, Utah should:

- Do nothing and keep Daylight Savings as it is now
- Do away with Daylight Savings (Fall Back)
- Keep Daylight Savings all year long (Spring Forward)
- Undecided