We have reached the last few days of the 2017 Legislative Session. Our state constitution mandates that the Legislature meet for 45 consecutive days each year. On March 9 at midnight, we will finish business and adjourn. Between now and when we adjourn, I will be working from 5:00 a.m. to very late in the night debating bills, attending committee meetings, reading email and reviewing legislation. As always, I will personally review all your email messages, but probably will not have time to respond. If it is critical that you receive a response, please let me know.
During the last few days of the session there are often dramatic changes to bills that legislators do not have time to read and that have not been carefully analyzed in a House committee hearing. Unless I am comfortable with legislation, I will often vote "no" even if it sounds like it might be good. More mistakes are made in the last few days of the legislative session than in the rest of the session combined.
Election Law Legislation
There has been more legislation dealing with elections issues than I have seen in the past. In an earlier weekly message, I described HB 204 - Presidential Primary Amendments, which passed the House and is now being considered in the Senate. Two other campaign bills that you may not have heard about yet are listed below.
HB 160 - Campaign Contribution Solicitation Amendments: Government resources should not be used for political purposes. But there have been instances of elected officials using their government email to solicit campaign funds. I had always thought that this was prohibited, but our current law is not clear on that point. HB 160, which I sponsored this session, will make it clear that using a government email to solicit campaign funds is illegal.
HB 160 received unanimous support in both the House and Senate. It will next go to the Governor for his consideration.
HB 133 - Candidate Filing Requirements: Last year Evan McMullin was one of the candidates running for President of the United States on the Utah ballot. His running mate for Vice President was listed as "Nathan Johnson." The problem with this is that the name "Nathan Johnson" was a placeholder. McMullin's real running mate was Mindy Finn.
HB 133 would require the actual name of the vice presidential candidate to appear on the Utah ballot. What a novel idea! Rep. Carol Spackman Moss is the sponsor of this legislation. I am cosponsoring this legislation, which passed both the House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor.
Clean Air Legislation
There are many clean air bills and appropriations requests working their way through the House and Senate. A full list and the current status of the legislation can be found here. We will continue to update this list through the end of the session.
HB 29 proposed extending Utah's energy efficient vehicle tax credit, which expired at the end of 2016. The bill lost by one vote. I strongly supported this clean air legislation.
Bills of Interest
HB 395 - Health Insurance Amendments: I have received many email messages and phone calls about HB 395, which has already been "substituted" (revised) a number of times by the sponsor, Rep. Dunnigan. This bill allows certain insurance companies to set rates rather than negotiate with physicians, hospitals and physician groups for care provided in emergency settings and other out-of-network situations.
This is an extremely complex piece of legislation that could have some unintended consequences, particularly in the rural parts of our state. I am not comfortable with the latest version of this bill and think this topic needs additional study during our Interim meetings. But keep watching because negotiations are ongoing on this controversial bill.
HB 369 - Sexual Offenses and Statutory Nonconsent Amendments: A bill that you may not have heard about passed the House late Friday afternoon. I thought you might be interested in some of the language in HB 369:
(1) A person commits nonconsensual sexual conduct when the person engages in sexual intercourse or any sexual act involving the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person, regardless of the sex of either participant, and:
(a) the actor knows that the actor is infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus; and
(b) the actor engages in the sexual conduct knowing that the victim is unaware of the actor's infected status.
(2) Nonconsensual sexual conduct is a class A misdemeanor.
I have many concerns about this legislation. It singles out one disease, not others that are sexually transmitted such as gonorrhea or syphilis. HB 369 also fails to recognize that people infected with HIV may not be contagious due to treatment or could be taking other precautions during sexual intercourse.
I voted against HB 369, but it passed the House. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration. The Chief Sponsor is Rep. Justin Fawson.
Art at the Capitol
Each week we are trying to highlight a few pieces of art you can find as you walk through our beautiful State Capitol.
Visitors at the Capitol
In the News
I appreciate getting your input on the many bills and appropriations requests that are still pending. As I mentioned earlier, during the last few days of the session, I personally read every message, but have very limited time to respond. Please remember to include your home address on all email messages.
It is an honor to serve as a member of the Utah State Legislature.