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Day 12 – Week Two In Review

February 9, 2013

Two weeks down and four to go. The bills are beginning to move fairly quickly at this point.

After a bill leaves the committee, it moves to the floor if the Senate. Each bill is read three times on the floor. The first time is just an introduction, which means that the title is read and the bill is listed on the board. The second time it is read is when the debate on the bill begins. During this time, everyone has a chance to question the sponsor of the bill, amendments can be suggested and voted on and either accepted or rejected. If the bill passes that reading, it is put on the third reading calendar where it is voted on once again. If it passes this final time then it moves on to the House to go through the same process.

MONDAY

Some of the bills that were on their “second read” on Monday were SB 30 and SB 115, both presented by Senator Dayton. These two bills actually went through the entire process last year but did not make it through the third reading calendar by the final night, as a result the bills had to go through the process again.

SB 128 – Financial Transparency in Education, SB 42 – Medical School Admissions Funding and SB 45 – Workers’ Compensation and Directors or Officers, all passed their final third reading on our floor on Monday.

I sit on the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee. We discussed the merits of the state’s Medicaid preferred drug list. Later, the Revenue and Tax Committee discussed a proposal for a tax exemption from database access. This bill, SB 124, passed out of the committee and has moved to the floor for further discussion.

The Education Committee passed HB 51 out to be voted on the floor. After quite a long discussion on SCR 5, a Concurrent Resolution Endorsing Utah Education Excellence Commission, it also passed out of the committee.

You can view the content and follow the progress of any bill on the legislative website: http://le.utah.gov/.

TUESDAY

On Tuesday morning, the Infrastructure and General Government met. This committee is tasked with allocating funds for state buildings and properties. Southern Utah University is for $2.7 million to purchase property for the expansion of university housing and parking.

Here is the agenda for the meeting, with a list of everyone who had financial requests for the committee that day.
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2013/html/00000568.htm

On the floor, most of the bills on the third reading calendar passed without debate. Those bills have now gone to House committees. There were, however, quite a few bills on the second reading calendar that drew intense debate. You can listen to any of the floor debates live on the legislative website or you can find links to the archived recording under the audio tab on the front page of the legislative website.

Each day, senate leadership meets with members of the press to answer questions about the floor debates. You can watch it here:
http://www.senatesite.com/home/senate2/senatelive/. You can even text in questions if you would like to participate.

Wednesday was the deadline for passing base budget bills. Here is a link that shows the budget allocations for eight of the appropriations committees:
http://le.utah.gov/interim/2013/lfa/cobi2013/COBI2013.htm#

WEDNESDAY

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee passed SB162. This bill, sponsored by Senator Urquhart, clarifies the fee structure for high school concurrent enrollment classes. Concurrent enrollment is an important key to college prep and increasing Utah’s college graduation rates. Here is a link to the bill: http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillint/SB0162.htm

The committee also passed SB 122, which would create a three-year pilot program for schools to implement programs that develop skills such as communication, teamwork, goal setting and problem solving. There was a lot of testimony about how these programs can change children’s lives. If you would like to listen, here is a link:
http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2420&meta_id=70350

SB 122 is a good example of the usefulness of a fiscal note. The requested amount is $240,000. It is not a great deal of money in terms of the entire $13 Billion budget, but it is necessary for us to do a cost/benefit for each proposed program so that even small amounts of money are spent wisely.

Here is a link to the bill:
http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillint/SB0122.htm

And here is a link to the fiscal note: http://le.utah.gov/lfa/fnotes/2013/SB0122.fn.htm

SCR 4 was heard in the Senate Business and Labor Committee. Senator Bramble is sponsoring this Resolution. It states that Utah supports Israel in its legal, historical, moral and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon its own land.

Here is a link to the Resolution: http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillint/SCR004.htm

On the Senate floor we discussed several House bills that have moved through committees. We hosted some visitors from the Ukraine and passed several Senate bills from the third reading calendar. Those bills advanced to House Committees.

One of those bills is SB 53, Intergenerational Welfare Reform, sponsored by Senator Reid. This bill coordinates the efforts of five state agencies to rescue children from intergenerational poverty. No one voted against this bill. Here is a link to more information the problems this bill addresses. http://www.senatesite.com/home/two-types-of-poverty/

Another bill that passed with no dissenting votes was SCR 3. This Resolution addresses the advantages of local control when dealing with endangered species. It supports Iron County in its local efforts to remove prairie dogs from the endangered species list.

The budget for Fiscal Year 2014 is beginning take shape. Although the final figures will not be ready for another week, it appears as though a sizeable share of the budget will go to Medicaid reform. Half of the budget money already goes directly to the education fund and much of the remaining half will go to entitlement programs. Due to good management, Utah is not in the red like so many other states. But we still do not know what federal funds will be received due to the fiscal cliff negotiations in Congress.

This ambiguity continues to affect the Appropriations Committees as we meet and consider requests and try to prioritize and allocate funds.

THURSDAY

Here is a great quote from Ronald Reagan that Senator Henderson shared at our caucus lunch about the important blessing of freedom that we enjoy.

“Perhaps you and I have lived with this miracle for too long to be appreciated. Freedom is a fragile thing, and it never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be and fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never known it again.”

Also on Thursday, I spent about a half hour on my feet on the floor advocating for the passage of HB 262. This bill would continue to allow voters to register as Republicans at the primary election polling places of they are not affiliated with any political party. It is a good bill that preserves the status quo. It eventually passed and has been sent to Gov. Herbert for his signature.

FRIDAY

Congressman Jason Chaffetz spoke to us and said that his number one concern is the lack of fiscal discipline from the federal government. The United States currently pays $700 million in interest each day. In the first quarter of this fiscal year, entitlement spending increased 16%. He also reiterated the importance of balancing the budget with spending cuts, not tax increase.

This week I passed several of my bills through committee and the Senate floor. I have amended a few of them as a result of excellent feedback in received from the public.

I am grateful to be your representative in the Senate as we all continue our fight to preserve our freedom for the next generation.

Each day there is a general recap of what happenings on the senate blog. You can see them here:
http://www.senatesite.com/home/

I look forward to hearing from you. The best way to contact me is at 801-599-9823 or tweiler@le.utah.gov.

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