News & Events

2015 Utah State Legislative Session - Week 2 Update
February 10, 2015
Parsons Behle & Latimer

Yesterday was the start of the third week of the 2015 legislative session.
There are 30 days until the final day of the session.

Medicaid Expansion

The Legislature is chewing on Gov. Herbert’s $236 million Healthy Utah Plan. The plan would help low-income residents obtain private health insurance, including those who do not qualify for any subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. There is support, particularly in the Senate, for the Governor’s plan. Many in the House, however, are wary of the governor’s plan, believing it could be a costly long-term commitment. Instead they are looking to limit coverage to only the medically frail earning less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The issue is providing the GOP House and Senate a rare opportunity to meet in a joint caucus meeting.

Voter Turnout

In the 2014 elections, Utah had one of the lowest recorded voter turnout rates in the nation. HB200 (Arent) would establish a task force aimed at discovering why Utah voters are not voting. One contributing factor could be the increasing number of non-competitive races throughout the state.

Seatbelts

Currently not wearing a seat beat is a secondary law, meaning drivers can be ticketed for it but only if they are stopped for another reason. The drive for a law that allows police officers to stop someone not wearing a seatbelt gains more traction each year and hopes are high that it will pass this session.  The sponsor, Rep. Lee Perry, a highway patrolman, believes a primary seatbelt law will increase the percentage of people wearing seatbelts by 10 - 12 percent. If that happens, around 90 percent of Utahns will be wearing their seatbelts, likely saving 35-40 lives each year.

Air Quality

Last Thursday two forces joined together to urge support for a measure that would replace nearly 200 school buses throughout the state. Clean air advocacy groups and schoolchildren pressed for the passage of HB49 (Handy), which would award a one-time $20 million grant to replace old diesel school buses with vehicles that run on natural gas. Already receiving a favorable recommendation from one committee and a nod in Gov. Herbert’s fiscal-year 2015 budget recommendation, HB49 has a good chance of becoming law.

Prison Relocation

Last Thursday Rep. Merrill Nelson introduced HB262 that would require the Prison Relocation Commission to consider the current Draper site as one of the locations for a newly constructed prison, if the Legislature votes to fund construction. Legislators on the PRC may have already moved past that idea, believing there are significant financial gains if the Draper site is used for commercial use.

If you need additional information on any of these issues or bills, please contact David Bird at 801.536.6824, Mike Bailey at 801.201.0115, Shelly Cordon Teuscher at 801.541.5918 or visit le.utah.gov.