This year’s Legislature ended with some tremendous opportunities that increase Education funding. There was $445 million in new money directed toward public and higher education. Because of a strong economy and priorities to help fund education, the Legislature actually directed $20 million more in funding than was in Gov. Herbert’s budget request.
That means there will be additional funding for classrooms, new revenue directed toward schools, technology and higher eduction. We have increased by 3% the weighted per-pupil unit. We anticipate 10,000 new students this fall and we have directed funding to that increase.
The Legislature voted to approve Medicaid expansion with a limited program that provides coverage to the very poorest in the state and with a preference to those with physical disabilities, mental illness and individuals recently in jail. It is a valuable step to help those most in need while being prudent with taxpayer dollars and potential future unknowns in health care funding.
“Fetal Pain” Bill
The Legislature passed a bill that requires women to receive anesthesia for any abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. It is designed to prevent the fetus from feeling pain. Senator Bramble sponsored this legislation and I joined in serving as the House sponsor.
The Legislature supported the effort to manage our public lands on state level. This includes support of the lawsuit in the absence of federal legislative progress. This option was recommended after significant research that concluded that there is a substantial Constitution challenge to the U.S. government retaining control over 2/3 of the land in the State of Utah.
Watch a video summary from the legal team regarding this keystone issue.
We want the things we treasure taken care of not only for our day, but for generations to come. We want people to know that we care about our public lands and believe we can better manage them than the federal government.
Marijuana Legalization update
The Legislature conducted a robust discussion on medical marijuana this session. Bills were written numerous times. There are still many unknowns. One of the biggest unknowns was funding the regulation that would come with adopting legalization. At the end of the session the measure would have required $800,000 for agencies to begin licensing, regulating greenhouse operations, processing facilities and dispensaries to make the program operational. I believe the Legislature will continue to work on this issue and find the appropriate Utah solution for our state.
Legislative Wrap-up Meetings
Please join us at one of these meetings for a Legislative wrap-up.
Tuesday, March 15, 7:30 pm
Canyon Technology Park (old Word Perfect Campus)
We will put a sign at the entrance. Hope to see you there.
Thursday, March 17, 7:00 pm
Orem City Center
Thursday, March 24, 7:30 pm
Provo Location, TBA