Category: Blog Post

Veto Override Recap

The Legislature voted to override Governor Gary Herbert’s veto of two vitally important pieces of legislation that passed during the 2018 General Session. HB 198, Attorney General Responsibility Amendments, and SB 171, Intervention Amendments, are key to protecting the constitutional role of the Legislature and ensuring proper separation of powers. These two bills provide clarity to issues that have caused recent confusion in regard to where the line of separation among the branches of government ought to be drawn.

HB 198 merely requires the attorney general respond in good faith to legislative requests for an opinion within 30 days and allows the Legislature to petition the Utah Supreme Court to obtain an opinion if the attorney general does not comply. It also adds additional clarity to the role of the attorney general.

SB 171 allows the Legislature to intervene in support of litigation challenging the constitutionality of state statute.

According to the Utah Supreme Court’s Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 24, the Legislature is authorized to direct, by statute, that certain parties to a lawsuit be allowed to intervene. That is precisely what this law does by allowing the Legislature to intervene on its own behalf to defend the constitutionality of legislation it has passed, where necessary, to fully represent its interests and those of the people it represents.

HB 198 and SB 171 add additional guidance and clarity to the powers held by each branch when seeking opinions from the attorney general and defending statute from constitutional challenge.

Firework Fact Sheet

During the 2017 fireworks season, questions were raised about the types of fireworks allowed, the number of days it is legal to use fireworks, fire prevention, and liability concerns. In order to address these issues in a balanced and appropriate manner, Rep. Jim Dunnigan and Sen. Jani Iwamoto worked together on legislation that balances these concerns with the desire many Utahns have to be able to celebrate our most patriotic holidays with traditional displays of fireworks. HB 38, Fireworks Restrictions,  is the result of numerous meetings with law enforcement, firefighters, fireworks retailers and manufacturers, citizens, and local elected officials.

A balanced approach

This legislation takes a balanced, bipartisan, and reasonable approach to addressing the many viewpoints on how and when fireworks should be allowed.

40% reduction in dates fireworks are allowed to be discharged in July

  • Fireworks will be allowed on July 2-5 (instead of July 1-7) and July 22-25 (instead of  June 23- 27).
  • Fireworks would still be allowed on New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Sale of fireworks 

  • June 24-July 25 (from June 23-July 27).
  • New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year’s eve remain the same.

Stronger penalties for shooting fireworks outside of permitted dates and times

  • A penalty for discharging fireworks when not permitted would be up to a $1,000 fine.

New penalty for igniting fireworks in restricted areas

  • Up to a $1,000 penalty and an infraction for discharging fireworks in an area where fireworks have been prohibited due to hazardous environmental conditions.

More local control

  • Provides clarity and increased flexibility to local governments and the state forester to prohibit the discharge of fireworks due to historic or current hazardous environmental conditions.

Easier to understand restrictions and penalties

  • Requires local governments and the state forester to create and provide maps showing where fireworks are prohibited due to hazardous environmental conditions.
  • Requires retailers to display maps that counties provide showing these restricted areas and display signs that indicate legal dates and times as well as criminal penalties and fines for violations.

Increased liability for causing a fire with fireworks

  • Civil liability for negligently, recklessly, or intentionally causing a fire with fireworks potentially includes any damages caused by the fire and any costs of suppressing the fire.

 

 

4-H

Utah State University Extension Utah 4-H youth recently gathered at the Utah State Capitol to hold a mock legislature. The future leaders had the opportunity to experience the role of a legislator and learn first-hand about the lawmaking process.

During the mock legislative session, 4-H members presented and debated bills from the 2018 session on the House floor. The students also held committee meetings where they presented their sponsored legislation. Representative Paul Ray and members of the Office of Legislative Research sponsored the event and observed the proceedings.

Martha Hughes Cannon

Today, Governor Herbert is ceremonially signing a resolution that passed the Utah Legislature proposing Utah send a statue of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon to Washington, D.C.                                                     

On February 14, 1870, the first American woman to cast a vote in a state-wide election, Seraph Young, did so right here in Utah. Fast forward 148 years to February 14, 2018, when a concurrent resolution to have Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon represent Utah in the nation’s Capital passed the House.

Dr. Cannon was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. She obtained two medical degrees, from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in public speaking from the National School of Elocution and Oratory in Philadelphia.

In 1870, women were granted the right to vote in Utah—50 years before the 19th Amendment granted that right nationwide—but

Congress removed it in the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887.  Martha was a key player in ensuring that the right of women to vote and hold public office were included in the Utah Constitution in 1895.

Shortly afterward, Dr. Cannon ran for Utah State Senate and won against a number of candidates, including none other than her own husband. She became the first-ever female state senator in the United States in 1896, more than 20 years before most women in the country were even able to cast a vote.

Each state is represented by two historical figures in theNational Statuary Hall in Washington D.C., with ours being Brigham Young and Philo T. Farnsworth. SCR1 recommends replacing Farnsworth’s statue, which has been there for 32 years, with one of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon.

“Martha Hughes Cannon embodies the grit, talents, and vision of citizens of Utah, both as we look back at her era and as we look forward to our future,” said the House bill sponsor Rep. Becky Edwards on Twitter. “Let’s use her example as inspiration to do something good today!”

2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which made voting possible for all women. As our nation commemorates women’s suffrage in 2020, Utah will be standing up to celebrate its own historic and groundbreaking role in this effort.

 

Medicaid Expansion

Rep.  Robert Spendlove ran a bill during the 2018 legislative session, that requires the Utah Department of Health to submit a waiver request to expand Medicaid in Utah. HB 472, Medicaid Expansion Revisions, passed the Utah Legislature and was signed by Governor Gary Herbert signed into law on March 27, 2018.

HB 472 has an enrollment cap, which limits the state’s liability while offering coverage to those under 100 percent of the federal poverty level, who make too little to qualify for the ACA exchange, and without access to employer-based health insurance.

HB 472 has the potential to expand Medicaid coverage to about 60,000 Utahns with no new state funds. Rather, it shifts state money from already existing programs to this one with a greater, 90 percent federal match rate. This legislation includes a work requirement component, as well as a safeguard to automatically sunset the program if federal funding drops below the 90 percent match.

This Medicaid expansion would provide care through a managed-care model and focuses on the health of the patient rather than the number of services provided, seeking to reduce costs and increase quality of care.

 

Stay Connected

The Utah House of Representatives offers access to live and previous coverage of House floor proceedings and committee hearings from the legislative website. You can search the archive of past sessions, track bills, read proposed legislation and more at le.utah.gov.

Follow the Utah Reps on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay connected to what is happening, get a behind-the-scenes look and receive updates. You can also contact your representative here.

 

Prison Development Budget Timeline

Prison Development Budget Timeline

  • 2014
    • The decision was made to move the prison and the timing was right:
      • Existing prison determined to need at least $238 million in repairs
      • Estimates showed that state could realize billions in economic benefit by relocating the prison
    • Winter 2015
      • Cost estimates – $546 to $683 million, not including site-specific costs that would be determined upon site selection
        • Legislature appropriated $550 million ($470 bond, $80 million cash)
      • August 2015
        • Legislature approved Prison Relocation Commission’s recommendation to move the prison to Salt Lake City
          • Every site under consideration would require additional funding, and the SLC location was estimated to cost an additional $154 million
        • Spring 2016
          • Architect from DFCM worked with Department of Corrections to create prioritization program for the prison that met JRI goals, national standards and addressed potential future needs of a growing population, with a price tag of $860 million
            • This initial programming is common practice and usually exceeds anticipated budgets
          • Summer/Fall 2016
            • DFCM and Dept. of Corrections conducted a line-by-line review and reduced the cost estimate to $700 million
          • Spring 2017
            • As planned, Legislature authorized another $100 million in bonding for site-specific costs of the chosen location, bringing total allocation to $650 million
          • Summer/Fall 2017
            • In an effort to continue to reduce costs, project managers right-sized the space to meet the appropriation
            • This resulted in the current estimate of $692 million, a 19.5% reduction from highest estimate, and only $9 million more than the high end of the original 2015 estimates even when including site-specific costs that weren’t contained in those 2015 numbers
          • 2018 and Beyond
            • The current $692 million is an estimate and true costs won’t be known until it is placed for bidding
              • There remains a risk of cost escalation due to high labor demands and rising material costs
              • Over the last three years, the construction industry has realized an average 8.6% rate of inflation
            • Number will continue to be reviewed and challenged by DFCM, BDK (state’s consultant), the contractor team and the governor’s office

Adam Robertson Sworn in

Utah House District 63 officially has a new representative. Adam Robertson, a businessman who has lived in Provo for over a decade, was sworn into office today at the Utah State Capitol. Rep. Robertson will be replacing former Representative Dean Sanpei, who resigned in December to accept a position in Colorado. The district held a special election to elect a new representative and finish Dean Sanpei’s term, which ends this year.

Speaker Greg Hughes officiated the ceremony that was attended by Rep. Robertson’s wife and seven kids, among other relatives.  After the short ceremony, Speaker Hughes congratulated the Representative as he steps into his legislative role.

Utah Public Lands

On Monday, December 4, President Donald Trump announced modifications to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, after Secretary Ryan Zinke conducted a review of national monument designations and the history of the Antiquities Act earlier this year. The result is five unique national monument units that total more than 1.2 million acres.

Bears Ears will now encompass two monument areas – Shash Jáa, approximately 129,980 acres and Indian Creek, approximately 71,896 acres. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service will continue to co-manage the land. Bears Ears remains larger than Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park combined.

The new proclamation also provides increased public access to the land and restores allowance for traditional use for activities including motorized recreation, cattle grazing and tribal collection of wood and herbs.

Boundaries that remain protected include Bears Ears Buttes, the Lime Ridge Clovis Site, Moon House Ruin, Doll House Ruin, Indian Creek Rock Art and Newspaper Rock.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) will now consist of three monument areas – the Grand Staircase (209,993 acres), Kaiparowits (551,034 acres) and Escalante Canyons (242,836 acres). The three areas total more than a million acres and will be managed by the BLM.

To determine the necessary size to adequately protect significant objects and artifacts within the original designations, a thorough examination was conducted. Regions protected in the GSENM include areas of the highest concentration of fossil resources; important landscape features such as the Grand Staircase, Upper Paria Canyon System, Kaiparowits Plateau, Escalante Natural Bridge, Upper Escalante Canyons, East Kaibab Monocline, Grosvenor Arch, Old Paria Townsite and Dance Hall Rock; and relict plant communities such as No Mans Mesa.

During the review, Secretary Zinke personally visited the monuments and met with local Tribal representatives, county commissioners, residents and ranchers, as well as organizations such as the Wilderness Society and Nature Conservancy. In addition, for the first time in history, Secretary Zinke opened a formal comment period of the review of monuments designated under the Antiquities Act to individuals, providing an opportunity for many voices to be heard.

The purpose of the Antiquities Act is to protect archaeological or historical sites in the smallest area necessary. It was not intended to lock up large swathes of land. Since 1996, Utah has endured two of the most significant incidents of federal overreach regarding national monument designations in recent history.

During the 2017 session, the Utah Legislature passed, HCR 11, Concurrent Resolution Urging the President to Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Designation and HCR 12, Concurrent Resolution Urging Federal Legislation to Reduce or Modify the Boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

President Trump and his administration demonstrated that they are listening to Utahns and the desires of those who live in the area by pulling back a small portion of the federal overreach and abuse of the Antiquities Act that our state has endured. Through this process, they have shown their willingness to give greater access to public land, while still continuing to protect significant artifacts.

This is not the first time a president has reduced a monument. Reductions have occurred at least 18 times, by both Republicans and Democrats. For instance, President John F. Kennedy altered Bandelier National Monument; Presidents Taft, Wilson, and Coolidge reduced Mount Olympus National Monument; and President Eisenhower reduced the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

The recent modifications by the Trump administration restore local input on federal lands, increase economic opportunity, especially in rural communities through grazing, commercial fishing, logging and in certain cases, mineral development, and protect objects without unnecessarily preventing public access.

We want to sincerely thank President Trump and Secretary Zinke for listening and allowing those closest to the lands to have some input on how to best manage and care for them.

New Transportation Governance Model

The Transportation Governance and Funding Task Force met to review and discuss a potential new governance model for the state’s transportation system. This task force, the result of SB 174, Public Transit and Transportation (2017), was charged with making recommendations on transportation in the state.

They have been looking at statewide governance and organizational strategies to coordinate management and oversight of all types of transportation, and to evaluate and implement best practices.

A proposal was presented—the culmination of months of study and analysis—to replace the UTA board and president/CEO with a three-member panel and a nine-member advisory board. There would be some state control and oversight that would allow the agency to receive state Transportation Investment Fund dollars but because it would not be a complete takeover, the state would be protected from assuming UTA’s $2 billion debt.

The task force will hold at least one more meeting between now and the start of the Legislative session on January 22, 2018, where it is expected that a bill incorporating the new governance model, with additional details, will be reviewed. You can listen to the recent meeting here.