Utah’s 45-day legislative session beginning on January 23, 2017 will consider more than 1,000 bills. Here are some of the important pieces of legislation you should care about if you live in Utah.
Current air quality issues and standards are a concern of Utah legislators. There may be new legislation considered for gasoline standards, sulfur standards, vehicle emissions, electric vehicle incentives and more.
The Utah State Legislature’s interim Health and Human Services reviewed proposed legislation on medical marijuana and declined to endorse any bills. But there will be much debate on the topic this session. According to Fox 13, there may as many as five medical cannabis bills in the works.
The bills have to do with research and regulation of medical marijuana. Lawmakers are concerned that marijuana has yet to be taken through a drug approval process from a federal institution like the FDA.
Two bills failed to pass in 2016. Cannabis oil is already legal in Utah, being used to control epileptic seizures in some patients.
There are multiple bills addressing opioid abuse in this years session. One bill focuses on having insurance companies take action to prevent problems. Another bill seeks to reclassify a drug compound as a Schedule 1 drug.
A pilot program passed previous by Utah legislators gave $150,000 to various health departments to distribute naloxone kits, which is an overdose reversal drug.
Hopefully legislators will be able to produce some preventative measure to Utah’s opioid problems. One promising bill seeks to require additional authorization for risky prescriptions.
Statewide Crisis Line for Mental Health Services
Legislation will be proposed to create a statewide crisis line for mental health services. The proposed number is 3-1-1.
Tax Increase to Raise Money For Schools
There is talk among lawmakers and citizens of raising taxes to provide an additional $750 million for schools. Which, if any, taxes will be raised is yet to be decided. Over the course of the session, lawmakers will approve a budget totaling at least $16 billion.
Utah’s “Our Schools Now” movement seeks to raise personal income taxes by 7/8 of 1 percent to produce the $750 million. Most of that money would go to K-12, and each school would get about $1000 per enrolled student, their website says.
Gas taxes and food taxes are other targets for raising money for schools.
Update: Feb. 27, 2017
Other issues to be aware of:
HB 265: Repealing the Vehicle Safety Inspection Program
Utah is one of only a handful of states that require its citizens to pay for and pass a safety inspection each year. This costs Utahns about $25 million a year. This bill is trying to repeal mandatory safety inspections.
HB 155: Lowering the Blood Alcohol Content limit
This bill would lower the limit from .8% to .5% if you’re driving a vehicle.