The View From the Gallery - Week 1
The 2015 Legislative session has finally arrived, and it’s already looking like there will be plenty to battle over in the next 45 days.
To start the session, newly elected Speaker of the House Greg Hughes laid out his agenda, including tackling transportation funding, healthcare, and criminal justice reform. Returning Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser echoed the sentiments of Hughes’ ambitious agenda, saying he doesn’t recall ever being faced with so many big issues in one session.
Then came Governor Herbert’s State of the State address. It was full of a lot of cheerleading, a little policy, and a big push for his Medicaid expansion alternative, known as Healthy Utah.
Republican Leaders Not Sold
Unfortunately for Governor Herbert, Republican leadership in both the House and Senate isn’t quite sold on the idea, especially the part about paying for it. And that’s putting it nicely.
Moving from one controversial subject to another, Republican Senator Steve Urquhart is as confident as he’s ever been that his statewide LGBT anti-discrimination legislation will not just make it to the Senate floor this year, but will finally become law. That’s due in large part to the announcement made by the LDS church that they support governments at every level passing anti-discrimination laws.
But, the announcement also came with somewhat of a caveat. While the church supports anti-discrimination legislation, they also said it needs to be passed in connection with bills protecting religious liberty. What does that mean? Well, no one is actually that sure, but Republican Representative Jacob Anderegg is running a bill that would allow public officials, like county clerks, to refuse to officiate same-sex marriages if they object for religious reasons.
And finally, the Senate Education Committee supports a bill that would require Utah high school students to pass a civics test in order to graduate from high school.
$20M for Clean Buses
And the House Transportation Committee approved a bill that asks for $20 million to help schools buy new, cleaner running school buses.
And that’s this week’s “View From the Gallery”. See you next week, and be sure to pace yourself with the taffy.