Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen (green_jenni) wrote in progressiveutah,
Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen

Utah Legislative Update - Jan. 25

From the League of Women Voters and KCPW:


Better pay for teachers will be proposed in HOUSE EDUCATION this morning. HB 67 would pay special education teachers--who teach children with disabilities and are in short supply-- a stipend of $200 a day for up  to 10 days a year for additional work.

Under HB 270, grants to pay math and science teachers for an extended school year would be available from the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative or USTAR. The goal is to attract more teachers, better prepare students for college, and make better use of school buildings.

SB 105, which creates a Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, will be in SENATE JUDICIARY LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE.  The commission would evaluate judges standing for retention election.  Judges and legislators could not serve on the commission, and the number of members of the bar would be limited.

HOUSE BUSINESS AND LABOR will consider HB 89, Antidiscrimination Act Amendments, which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.


This afternoon HOUSE JUDICIARY will hear HB 26, Notary Public Revisions, which changes the definition of satisfactory evidence of a person's identity.  If issued by another nation the document must be a passport. A driving privilege card would not be accepted.  

HOUSE LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE will debate HB 262, which directs the attorney general to find ways to persuade the federal government by November 1st to reimburse the state for costs of illegal immigration.  Costs of criminal prosecution, incarceration, medical assistance, health care and foster care are listed in the bill.  HB 237, Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, would allow state and
local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law through an agreement with the federal Department of Homeland Security.

HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES, AGRICULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT will consider HB 51, which would protect water company stockholders and public water suppliers from forfeiting their water rights because of non-use.  Utah law says water rights holders have a continuing obligation to put water to beneficial use. They can lose the right if water isn't used for 5 years.  HB 51 extends the 5 years to 7 years and protects water from forfeiture when it's part of a conservation or environmental program or may be needed by the public within the next 30 years.

For more information, be sure to visit your legislature -- in person or online at --and the League of Women Voters website at

Friday, January 25, 2008


The Senate Health and Human Services Committee had an ambitious agenda yesterday morning.

They passed a bill that should help relieve some of the frustration we all have with the complications of health insurance. SB 62 - Medical Complication Exclusions- requires health insurance providers to clearly warn their clients of conditions that are not covered under their policy - particularly secondary ailments that result from a procedure, drug or condition that is itself not covered. Insurers would have to provide written warnings, use clear language, and include easily understood examples.  Such explanations are not always easy.  But if they failed to inform their subscribers of the exclusions, they would have to cover the treatment.  Senator Knudsen, sponsored the bill.

The committee also approved Substitute SB 56 sponsored by Senator McCoy, setting up a process for naturopathic physicians from other states or countries to be licensed in Utah when they move here.  

SB 66, Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act, also passed. It sounds almost like  a response to 9-11 and Katrina.  If a state emergency here in Utah requires licensed health worker volunteers to come in from out of state to help out, those workers would be registered and regulated by the state.  Their civil liability would be limited and they could apply for Workers' Compensation in case of injury or death if they had no other coverage.  The issue of protecting physicians from liability who volunteer to treat patients without pay has been around for quite a while in Utah.  

Notice the word "Uniform" in the bill title.  That's because the bill sponsor, Senator Lyle Hillyard, is an attorney who belongs to a national organization of lawyers dedicated to creating model laws that are more uniform and easier to enforce in all the states.  

The most ambitious bill on the agenda was not tackled yesterday.  SB 133, a plan to improve health care for Medicaid and CHIP recipients touches on health care reform elements such as cost savings through managedcare, consistent primary care, and stabilizing patients with chronic conditions. As the population ages, chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes become more prevalent and costly. Expanding coverage by Medicaid and CHIP is part of the Utah plan.  SB133would make those programs more efficient, making the most of the federal dollars they bring into the state.


The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.


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