Another eventful week has come and gone here on the Hill.
We have 9 days left in the 2015 general session!
Here is a quick overview of the bills in discussion in the House that inform you about the bill and my rationale for the vote I cast.
HB 207, which gives teachers a maximum $50 tax credit for personal money they spend on supplies, passed the House with the vote of 48-24. It will now go to the Senate.
The bill also requires the Utah State Office of Education to find out how much the average teacher is spending ‘out-of-pocket’ so the tax credit can be adjusted in the future.
I voted in favor of HB 207 because I have been in public education for 23 + years and I am happy to support teachers any way that I can.
HB 386 would require Police departments to turn on body cameras and keep the recordings for at least 30 days. HB 386, sponsored by Rep. Dan McCay, seeks to set statewide standards for the use of body cameras and keeping the recordings. The bill would require law enforcement to wear the body cameras in a conspicuous location and officers to record encounters with citizens.
HB 386 will require officers to use the body cameras when serving any warrant at a private residence. HB 386 is in the processes of making its way to the House Floor, where I will have an opportunity to vote in favor or against this legislation.
HJR 14 was a bill intended to discuss amendments aimed at fiscal restraint, limiting the federal government’s reach and imposing term limits. This bill was heavily debated and failed by just four votes. The debate focused on the intent of the Founding Fathers and the future of the National Debt. Rep. Ivory challenged his colleagues to “grab the steering wheel” and avoid a catastrophe that would come from uncontrollable federal spending and sprawling government.
I voted against this measure due to concerns about a potential runaway convention and questions I still have about the delegate selection process and who would have the power to control such a convention.
HJR 7 calls for a Constitutional Convention to consider a balanced-budget amendment. This Bill passed through House with a vote of 40-30. I did not support this measure due to the concerns listed above. This bill will now go to the Senate for their deliberation.I am very frustrated without federal government’s inability to balance our budget. I see the rising national debt as a burdensome limitation on the children’s future. Perhaps a constitutional convention is what we need. I have received many emails and letters nearly equally supportive and non-supportive. As you may know, in our great state of Utah we are constitutionally bound to balance the budget every year by the end of our session. That is our number one priority. The budgeting process and debate takes about 60% of our time, yet gets so little coverage in the press.
Balancing the state budget is one of the yearly accomplishments that I am most proud of doing for you and all citizens. Balancing the budget, like you do in your homes, creates a predictable and secure environment to invest, spend and grow economically – which is happening in our state.
HB 94, known as “The Right to Try” bill is making its way through the legislation process. The bill would allow terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs and devices that have yet to receive full approval from regulators.
I voted for this bill because puts the decision of whether to try an experimental drug where it belongs, with the patients, physicians and pharmaceutical companies working on such drugs.
This bill further restricts what drivers are allowed to do in their cars with their cell phones.
It passed the House. I voted against this legislation as I believe individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and accept consequences for the choices they make. Government has a role in protecting its’ citizenry- but where does it end? I am concerned that daily we are losing our freedom and ability to act for ourselves, one law at a time
The House is continuing to work on the State of Utah’s responsibility under Obamacare. The cost for Utah’s portion of the current coverage gap (which affects approximately 35,000 Utahns) ranges anywhere from $7,000,000.00 (7 million) to $200,000,000.00 (200 million) dollars.
The expenditure for these programs varies depending on whether or not we (politicians) are ready to spend your money on a program that we will not be able to control in the future and whose future costs are uncertain.
Many states are currently grappling with Obamacare. Some have made some serious missteps, others are moving in directions that we might be able to learn from and apply to our own plan.
I am supportive of making this decision deliberately and carefully. I espouse and support careful consideration regarding the use of YOUR taxes on all issues, and most specifically this issue. I would like to see this issue be considered in a special session in April where this is our only focus.
As always, I welcome any questions, comments, or concerns, and look forward to hearing from you.
You are MORE than welcome to come up and sit by me on the House floor. I love hearing and working with constituents. Those that have come up so far have enjoyed the experience. Just let me know!
It is humbling to be your servant in the Utah House of Representatives.