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May 2013 Interim

May 21, 2013

The legislature met on May 15, 2013 for a full day of interim committee meetings. Here are some of the highlights.

The Business and Labor committee heard some Alcoholic Beverage Control issues. It received a presentation from committee staff on 2013 General Session alcohol-related legislation, license quotas, and selected operational and licensing requirements for retail licensees of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Also, it received presentations from legislators who sponsored alcohol-related bills during the last session.

The committer also discussed Discretionary Clauses in Insurance Contracts. It heard presentations from the Insurance Department and a health insurance company regarding discretionary clauses in certain insurance plans. It also took public comment from insurance representatives, medical providers, and consumers.

After receiving information from staff regarding the sunset review process and previous sunset reviews of the Utah Injured Worker Reemployment Act, the committee opened a priority bill file under committee sponsorship regarding the Utah Injured Worker Reemployment Act to make some modifications.

In the Economic Development and Workforce Services committee, they heard a presentation from the Department of Heritage and Arts describing the department’s organization, mission, duties, goals, and concerns.

The Economic Development Task Force
received an update on the work of the Economic Development Task Force, which was created by 2012 General Session H.B. 28, “Economic Development Task Force.” The task force is beginning the second year of its two-year assignment.

The committee also heard a presentation from committee staff on statewide economic development, workforce services, housing and community development, and heritage and arts. Committee staff also provided an update on economic development and workforce services-related bills that were passed during the 2013 General Session.

The committee heard a presentation from staff regarding the required annual agency reports, including standardize reporting provisions for these reports. The committee voted to direct the Department of Workforce Services, the Department of Heritage and Arts, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to make recommendations and work with committee staff to develop a process to provide reports and other information to the committee and to the public.

The Education committee discussed the Acquisition of New Products and Services. It heard reports from the Utah State Board of Education and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development describing how and when the respective agencies will acquire new education products and services that were funded in the 2013 General Session and make them available to public schools.

The new products and services include:

-Math instructional technology for middle school students
that will prepare them for college math courses;

-Interactive computer software for literacy instruction and assessment of students in kindergarten through third grade;

-College readiness assessments and an online test preparation program; and

-The deployment of whole school, one-to-one mobile technology.

In Class Size Reduction, the committee heard a report from the Utah State Board of Education on the implementation of 2013 General Session H.B. 318, “Classroom Size Revisions,” which specifies the requirements for a school district or charter school to qualify for class size reduction money. H.B. 318 requires a plan for the expenditure of class size reduction money and a report on how the money was expended.

On School Trust Lands, the committee received a report from the School Children’s Trust, a section of the Utah State Office of Education, describing the revenues generated from and issues related to the management of school trust lands. A task force of the State Board of Education is studying options for the management of the permanent State School Fund.

At my request, the Government Operations committee discussed whether the Utah attorney general should be appointed rather than elected.

The committee also heard presentations from staff, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and the Office of the Attorney General regarding the current process for evaluating and adjudicating election complaints. Presenters suggested areas of the process that could be clarified or amended, including:

-The process for deciding whether to bring a proceeding to determine if an election violation occurred;

-The level of involvement in a proceeding by the government and the petitioner; and

-Responsibilities for costs and fees relating to a proceeding.

The committee moved that committee staff, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and the Office of the Attorney General meet and discuss how to improve the process for evaluating and adjudicating election complaints.

Lastly, the committee heard my presentation on whether Utah should reduce the size of its fleet of vehicles and rely on a state rental contract to handle the overflow and whether the state’s fleet car sales should be privatized. The Department of Administrative Services, Department of Workforce Services, and University of Utah presented information about their respective fleet management experiences. The committee also heard presentations from the private sector regarding ways to increase fleet efficiency and revenue from the sale of fleet vehicles.

In Health and Human Services (one if my committees), we heard presentations from the University of Utah and the American Heart Association on the roles and funding of community health workers and how augmenting the professional skills of workers could qualify their services for reimbursement under Medicaid.

We also received a presentation from the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing on its effort to finalize a memorandum of understanding with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to participate in the board’s PMPInterconnect program. The program facilitates the sharing of information in the controlled substance database among states. The division expects the interstate sharing arrangement to be available to prescribers by June 30, 2013.

The committee whether the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing should notify physicians when a patient receives prescription drugs from more than one prescriber.

The division reported that it intends to expand existing notification practices when it next receives a federal grant for the state’s controlled substance database.

We also considered issues associated with electronic cigarettes, including the lack of regulation.

I introduced a presentation from an insurance provider on how the state could create a long-term care insurance partnership. This partnership would allow purchasers of long-term care insurance to receive an offset for the value of the insurance if they seek long-term care services under Medicaid.

We heard a presentation from staff on the federal government’s approval of the state’s proposal to operate one of the two health insurance exchanges required under the federal Patient

Utah’s existing Avenue H health insurance exchange will perform the functions of the act’s small employer exchange.

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From → 2013 Interim

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