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This week Legislature worked on Medicaid expansion, rural grants

 

02-21-2019

 

We are now three weeks into the legislative session, and as expected things are heating up. Appropriations committees are still convening in the mornings to consider requests for appropriations, while standing committees continue to meet in the afternoon to consider bills. We increased our time debating bills on the floor this week by adding an afternoon floor time every day.

We kicked off the week by considering the changes made in the House to SB 96, Medicaid Expansion Adjustments. As I mentioned last week, SB 96 is a responsible way to help more people by expanding Medicaid. The House amended the bill to include a backup plan, in case the federal government does not grant the waivers as expected. We anticipate receiving the waivers, but if we do not, Medicaid Expansion will still occur, and we will default to the language included in Proposition 3.

This week I presented SCR 5, Concurrent Resolution Recognizing Edward T. Alter for serving 28 consecutive years as Utah State Treasurer. He served on many boards and received national recognition for the innovation he brought to the office. I had the opportunity to serve with him for 12 years on the CIB board. I came to appreciate him for his great wisdom and ability to work with others to come to solutions. It was an honor to recognize him on the Senate floor.

In committee this week, we considered HB 110, Rural Economic Development Incentives. Last year we passed a bill on Rural Economic Development Incentives that offers grants to businesses along the Wasatch Front or throughout the State to employ rural Utahns to work online. An issue arose where a major company wanted to employ 30 rural Utahns, but the work required to apply for the grant was not worth the small grant. This year, HB 110 seeks to modify the maximum grant amount to be more enticing for larger businesses who are truly trying to embrace this program. I have signed on to be the floor sponsor for this bill in the Senate, as I support the positive impact this will have on our community.

Next week we will reduce the amount of floor time in favor of additional time in standing committees. Next week will be the last week our appropriations subcommittees weeks. In the following weeks, only the Executive Appropriations Committee will meet.

Thank you again for giving me this opportunity to serve in this position and represent you at our State’s Capitol. I appreciate your support and hope to hear from you throughout the session.

 

Ralph Okerlund