View From the Gallery: Week 5
Week five of the 2016 Utah legislative session is over, and the mad dash to the end has finally begun. KUER’s Brian Grimmett reports on the latest in this week’s View From the Gallery.
One of the legislature’s main jobs is to set the budget for the following year, and this week they found out that they’d have a little bit less to spend than they originally thought. But they still have more than $500 million new dollars they can allocate. Unfortunately, for the long list of people and organizations clamoring for it, a large portion of that money will go towards funding the natural growth of pre-existing programs, like education, and Medicaid.
U of U Athletics Audit
Speaking of following the money, legislators approved an audit of the University of Utah athletics program this week. Lawmakers say the audit is in part a response to the U’s recent decision to cancel a basketball game with BYU. And while some may think the audit is immature and retaliatory, at least the legislature hasn’t mandated the game…yet.
Same-Sex Couple Adoption
Meanwhile a House Committee voted down a bill aimed at fixing the language in Utah’s adoption and foster parenting laws to reflect the legalization of same-sex marriage. The bill would have changed the words man and woman to couple or spouse. But with the bill’s death, the state will be able to continue to give preference to man/woman marriages in adoption cases.
Staying with the theme of morality, Utah Senators unanimously approved a resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis. But because resolutions are nothing more than non-binding, sternly written letters, it’s hard to believe this will have any real world impact whatsoever.
And finally, by the slimmest of margins, the Utah Senate passed Republican Senator Mark Madsen’s medical marijuana bill, but not before watering it down. The bill they’re sending over to the House will allow certain people to gain access to cannabis extracts prepared in medical doses, but they will not have access to the whole plant. And while getting the bill passed out of the Senate is an accomplishment, the big question now is will it have enough time or votes to get through the House in just two short weeks.