The 2021 Utah State Legislative Session has come to an end. The days were long but the session went by quickly. After a lot of work and negotiation both of my bills passed during the final week. HB 262 Children's Health Insurance Amendments provides funding for outreach programs to get more children insured under the state's Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). HB 287 Nurse Practice Act Amendments modifies the requirements a nurse practitioner must meet before they can prescribe certain medications. I am proud that my bills addressing health care received support in the legislature and I am thankful to my colleagues for their support.
Representative Jon Hawkins
There was not a dry eye in the chamber as we greeted Rep. Jon Hawkins. He has been in the ICU battling COVID-19 and has not been able to participate in the legislative session. Watching Rep. Hawkins cast a few votes and speak to his colleagues was a memorable and special moment of the entire session.
This week, legislative leaders and philanthropic representatives held a press conference to announce a public-private partnership in addressing affordable housing and homelessness.To address these challenges, the Utah Legislature will use $50 million in state funds and with the support of the philanthropic community, amplify that investment to almost three-quarters of a billion dollars in impact. Read more here.
100 Years of Agriculture
The Legislature passed HCR 21 recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Department of Agriculture and Food. Every living former commissioner joined us in the gallery as we read the resolution.
Salt Lake and Davis counties are moving to the moderate phase on the state’s transmission index. The index has three levels of transmission- high, moderate and low. According to the Utah Department of Health, the moderate transmission phase allows public gatherings such as live events, movie theaters, sporting events, weddings, recreation and entertainment with side-by-side seating as long as all patrons are wearing a mask and are free from COVID-19 symptoms.
Vaccines are now available for anyone 50 years old and up. As well as those with diabetes, a BMI of 30 or higher, and anyone with chronic kidney disease. The Governor also announced his hope in having vaccines available to all Utahns starting on April 1st. To learn more, click here.
New Utah State Parks
The Legislature passed HB 257 Utah State Park Amendments which will create two new state parks: Utahraptor State Park and Lost Creek State Park. Located in the Moab area, Utahraptor State Park will cover 6,500 acres with campgrounds, trails and endless outdoor recreational opportunities. The park is named after the Utah State dinosaur and is near a huge deposit of dinosaur bones. The other new state park is Lost Creek, a 365 surface acre lake, located in the mountains of Northern Utah and is popular for fishing, ice fishing and wakeless boating.
In addition to the state parks, the Legislature will appropriate millions of dollars to drastically assist the Division of Parks and Recreation to improve and expand recreation access across the entire state, which will help alleviate the growing demand for outdoor recreation. The improvements will increase outdoor recreation in Utah and benefit local economies and park visitors. The funding will add approximately 500 campsites to the state’s overall campsite inventory and expand public parking by 10% which will add around 1,000 additional visitor parking spaces. When completed, these investments allow us to accommodate literally thousands of additional visitors each weekend at our state parks!
SB 195 Emergency Response Amendments aims to bring greater balance of power in emergency situations. It addresses limits in the length of time that health departments and the executive branch can put into place emergency mandates.
HB 294 Pandemic Emergency Powers Amendments allows for the termination of emergency powers and public health emergency powers related to COVID-19 upon reaching a certain threshold of vaccination and recovery.
From funding state parks to double tracking the Frontrunner, House Majority Whip Mike Schultz joins us this week to talk about his bill that will be one of the largest Infrastructure investments in Utah’s history. Listen here!
Executive Appropriations Committee
The Executive Appropriations Committee met Thursday evening to finalize the budget to present to the full legislature before session ends. Additional items to the budget included caucus approved fiscal note bills and HB 433 Amendments Related to Infrastructure Funding, which provides $834,600,000 for infrastructure projects throughout the state. This is the largest single one-time investment in infrastructure and an incredible investment into Utah’s future. This is the largest single one-time investment in infrastructure and an incredible investment into Utah’s future.
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in the Utah House of Representatives. Since this was my first session I learned a lot by speaking with my colleagues and watching their examples. We passed a total of 503 bills in the 45 day session. I am proud of what I was able to accomplish and I look forward to the interim sessions throughout the remainder of this year. If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me.
Representative Doug Welton
Utah House District 67