Grass Roots
Committed to Promoting the Principles of Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government,
Participatory Republic, Free Market Economy, Family and Separation of Powers

Legislative Updates - 24 February 2020

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Dear Friends:

This is GrassRoots’ fourth weekly legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature.

At this time (4 weeks into the session), there are about 630 numbered bills for this session. Read on for coverage of some bills that we consider noteworthy.

A couple bills catching our attention this week:

HB323, “School Mental Health Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Eliason, would:

  • require the State Board of Education and the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to develop or select a mental health screening tool to be administered annually to students in government schools;
  • require the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to collect, store, and analyze data from the screening tool;
  • require the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to make recommendations for interventions for students based on the results of the screening tool;
  • require an LEA to work with the school mental health professional to provide recommended interventions in the school setting; and
  • allow the State Board of Education to use surplus funds appropriated for the screening to assist parents to pay for recommended mental health interventions that cannot be provided by a school mental health professional in the school setting.

HB323 awaits consideration by the House Education Committee.

Should young students in government schools be routinely screened for mental health problems? We think not. This proposal seems prone to invasion of privacy and-or to training our young people to devalue their privacy.

We should adhere to the standard that privacy should not be violated except upon probable cause to believe that needed information or evidence will be found (see Utah State Constitution, Article I, Section 14; see also US Constitution, Fourth Amendment).

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB323.

SB74, “Family Planning Services Amendments”, sponsored by Senator Kitchen, would require the Division of Health Care Financing to apply for a Medicaid waiver or a state plan amendment to extend family planning services to certain low-income individuals (specifically those having “an income level that is equal to or below 250% of the federal poverty level” (see lines 39-41)).

The fiscal note for SB74 estimates additional spending of $3 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, and $4 million in FY2022, and that most of this would be paid for out of “Federal Funds.”

SB74 passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee 4-1 on February 18th, and awaits consideration on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

SB74 constitutes additional creeping expansion of Medicaid and of the welfare state. Some may argue that the national government will pay most of the cost of this Medicaid expansion, but we should not be encouraging the national government to spend ever more on items inconsistent with the original intent of US Constitution, Article I, Section 8. Both for Utah and US taxpayers, SB74 is an unwarranted burden.

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB74.

A couple bad firearm bills scheduled for committee hearing:

HB109, “Universal Background Checks for Firearm Purchasers”, sponsored by Representative King, would create additional background check requirements for the transfer of a firearm between persons who are not federal firearms licensees. Additional coverage of HB109 may be found in our update of February 17th.

HB109 awaits consideration by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, and is item 2 on the agenda of its Monday, February 24th, 4pm meeting at 450 State Capitol.

GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB109.

HB136, “Safe Storage of Firearms Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Weight, would create additional criminal offenses relating to storage of firearms. Additional coverage of HB136 may be found in our update of February 17th.

HB136 awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee, and is item 3 on the agenda of its Monday, February 24th, 4pm meeting at 20 House Building.

GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB136.

Other updated bill status:

HB100, “Veterans Treatment Court Act”, sponsored by Representative Snow and Senator Hillyard, would provide for the creation of a veteran treatment court in certain circumstances. Additional coverage of HB100 may be found in our update of February 3rd.

HB100 passed the House 71-0 on February 3rd, and the Senate 24-0 on February 13th, and awaits action by the Governor.

We still have the same concerns that we expressed in our earlier coverage of HB100, in which we expressed tentative opposition to HB100, saying: “we are still trying to understand the differences between the veteran treatment court established by HB100, and the old (also objectionable) veterans court that would apparently be superceded or replaced or succeeded by the veterans treatment court.

After additional study of HB100, this bill appears to us to be an effective expansion of the pre-existing Veterans Court established in 2015. Especially noteworthy is HB100’s expansion of special court powers as follows:

  • “defendant” is defined to mean “a veteran charged with a criminal offense” (see line 51); and
  • a veterans treatment court is allowed to “adopt supplemental policies and procedures” for various dealings with a “defendant”, meaning that, in some important ways, an individual who is charged but not convicted may become subject to one of these special courts (see lines 140-159).

GrassRoots opposes HB100, and therefore favors a veto of HB100 by the Governor.

HB114Sub2, “Early Learning Training and Assessment Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Waldrip and Senator Millner, would:

  • provide programs and assessments to “improve early learning in literacy and mathematics”; and
  • appropriate almost $17.6 million annually for these new programs.

Additional coverage of HB114Sub2 may be found in our update of February 10th.

HB114Sub2 passed the House 39-31 on February 13th, and awaits action by the Senate Rules Committee.

We would still prefer a $17 million tax cut, rather than the additional spending proposed by HB114Sub2. GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB114Sub2.

*SB62, “Reauthorization of Administrative Rules”, sponsored by Senator Anderegg and Representative Roberts, states: “All rules of Utah state agencies are reauthorized.” Additional coverage of SB62, along with discussion of the principle of Separation of Powers, may be found in our updates of February 10th and February 17th.

SB62 passed the House Government Operations Committee 9-0 on February 21st, and awaits consideration by the full House.

To the extent that any administrative rule is legislative in its nature, this would seem to be contrary to Utah State Constitution, Article V, Section 1.

To the extent that any administrative rule is executive in its nature, the need for the Legislature to authorize it seems nonexistent given that "The executive power of the state shall be vested in the Governor who shall see that the laws are faithfully executed" (Utah State Constitution, Article VII, Section 5).

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB62.

If you have any questions about these bills, GrassRoots’ position on these bills, or related matters, please contact either of us or any other member of the Board of Utah GrassRoots.


Steve Stromness
Vice-Chairman, Bill Review Coordinator, Utah GrassRoots

Don Guymon
Chairman, Utah GrassRoots

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