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What Happened On Day Four Of The Utah Legislature

Austen Diamond / KUER

The Senate delayed a second vote on a controversial bill to scale back portions of a voter-approved expansion of Medicaid on Thursday, as health advocates and faith leaders continued to express anger over the changes.

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, the bill’s sponsor, was expected to publish the fiscal note today or Friday. Democrats have heavily criticized leaders for bringing the legislation to a vote before knowing what its full cost would be. Once the bill clears the Senate again it will be sent to the House, where it will be assigned to committee.

Leaders of both chambers say the faster the bill passes the faster the state can seek the necessary federal waivers to implement the program, putting some urgency behind the effort.

Otherwise, it was a normal day on the Hill with just a handful of bills making their way to floor votes this afternoon. In total, there are now more than 1,100 bills proposed this session.

Among today’s activity:

  • Reps. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, and Stephanie Pitcher, D-Salt Lake City, easily saw their effort to allow state candidates use campaign funds for child care expenses clear the House with members of both parties voicing support. Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, said she’d like to see lawmakers take it a step further and allow lawmakers to use funds for child care post-election. The bill next heads to the Senate.
  • Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber, poured cold water on Gov. Gary Herbert’s proposal to slash the state sales tax rate from 4.7 percent to 1.75 percent. A tax cut that steep is “not going to happen,” Quinn told the House GOP caucus. “The math doesn’t add up.” He said a more concrete package of tax reform proposals will come in the next couple weeks.
  • Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, is bringing back a controversial bill to ban abortions if the sole reason is a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Lisonbee said Thursday that the new version of the bill is not unconstitutional because it contains a contingency clause, meaning it will not take effect until a court rules on the issue. Indiana is currently asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a similar law in that state.
  • A bill to allow remote notarization of documents via electronic methods, i.e. audio and video recording, was introduced. Sponsor Rep. Craig Hall said this will make it easier and faster for rural Utahns and the general public to get important documents notarized.
  • Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, circled his bill to limit lobbyist expenditures on gifts and donations to city council members, school board members and other government officials. McKell said these members should have to abide by the rules as the Legislature. Circling, FYI, just means a legislator wants to work on the bill a little more before debating it, usually to reword some things.
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