Protecting the Will of the People
The Utah Medical Cannabis Act
H.B. 3001, signed by Governor in December 2018 special session, heard in Utah Supreme Court.
S.B. 161, Medical Cannabis Act Amendments, by Sen. Escamilla, sent to Governor pending signature.
Rep. Marsha Judkins introduces a bill that would include autoimmune disorders as a qualifying condition for which a patient can receive medical cannabis. Autoimmune disorders were originally included in Prop 2, but were removed from the compromise Utah Medical Cannabis Act.
Fox 13 reports that Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Medical Group, two of the largest medical networks in the state, are directing its physicians to not issue recommendations for medical cannabis, despite the medical cannabis law already having gone into effect. Their claims about a July 2019 effective date are incorrect. The groups claim they need more time to understand the implications of the law and give proper guidance to its employees regarding treatment plans.
Patient advocacy groups Epilepsy Association of Utah and TRUCE filed a complaint prepared by former SLC Mayor Rocky Anderson in Utah’s 3rd District Court. The complaint argues the compromise passed by the Legislature violates the Utah Constitution in two ways:
- The Legislature overrode the people’s constitutional lawmaking authority, and
- The State allowed the LDS Church to unconstitutionally interfere in the lawmaking process through the Church’s role in creating the compromise.
Meeting in special session, the Legislature passed the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, repealing and replacing Proposition 2 with a compromise drafted by opposition and advocacy groups. Lawmakers acknowledge there will likely be further amendments made during the general session in January 2019.
Governor Gary Herbert issued a proclamation calling the Legislature into Special Session on Monday, December 3 to consider amending the Utah Medical Cannabis Act
One week before the planned special session, lawmakers on the Health and Human Services Interim Committee met to learn about the compromise legislation and hear testimony from interested parties — Rep. Chavez-Houck announced she would release a substitute bill that preserves the substance of the proposition, while making technical corrections.
Third draft of compromise legislation released.
Represented by former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, patient advocates threaten to sue lawmakers over the proposed compromise and the perceived undue influence of the LDS Church over lawmakers.
Voters approved the proposition by a vote of 52.8% to 47.2%.
Second draft of compromise legislation is released the evening before election day.
First draft of compromise legislation is released.
Representatives from Utah Patients Coalition, Drug Safe Utah, and the Legislature announce they have reached a tentative agreement on compromise legislation that would be passed by lawmakers regardless of whether Proposition 2 passes or not.
Drug Safe Utah, a coalition of individuals and organizations including the LDS Church, announced its opposition to the proposition.
After gathering 153,894 verified signatures, the proposition was certified to be on the November 2018 ballot.
Utah Decides Healthcare Act
The Utah Legislature repealed and replaced the full Medicaid expansion voters approved through Prop 3 with its own limited Medicaid expansion plan, SB 96.
Following denial of the funding waiver, Governor Herbert has the authority to file an SPA (State Plan Amendment) to fully expand Medicaid. The SPA would fast-track full Medicaid expansion, as voted on by the people of Utah in Nov. 2018.
The Trump administration denies Utah’s waiver for enhanced federal funding with a per-capita cap, a huge blow to members of Utah’s Legislative leadership who were gambling on this waiver being approved. This denial essentially foils the Legislature’s quest for partial Medicaid expansion.
CMS approves Utah’s “bridge” plan, the first phase of SB 96. The bridge plan covers Utahns making up to 100% of the federal poverty level, with the federal government funding 70 percent of costs and the state funding 30 percent. The approval allows for work requirements and per capita caps, meaning Utah could cap enrollment if there are insufficient state funds. Both these changes wouldn’t go into effect until Jan. 2020.
The Senate voted 22-7 to adopt the changes made in the House to SB 96. Gov. Herbert signed the bill into law that afternoon.
The House voted 56-19 to pass SB 96, with three republicans and all 16 democrats voting against the bill. SB 96 was amended to include full expansion up to 138% as a backup plan, if federal government waivers don’t come through by Jan. 1, 2020.
The House Business and Labor Committee passed S.B. 96 out of committee with a 9-6 vote, with Reps. Winder, Hall, and Dunnigan—the bill’s floor sponsor—joining Democrats in voting against the bill. In committee, the bill was amended to eliminate the automatic repeal of Medicaid expansion if the federal government does not approve the proposed waiver for partial Medicaid expansion with a 90/10 match.
The Senate voted 22-7 for a second time to pass S.B. 96 and send the bill over to the House. The Senate also approved a substitute to the bill that would repeal Medicaid expansion entirely if the federal government does not grant the proposed waiver. Opponents argued that the federal government has never before approved such a waiver, while Sen. Christiansen expressed certainty that the state would receive it.
The Senate Health and Human Services committee passed Sen. Christensen’s bill out of committee on a party-line 6-2 vote, while declining to take a vote on Sen. Anderegg’s flat repeal bill. Whenpressed by Sen. Escamilla whether there was a situation in which he would support full expansion, Christensen replied, “Philosophically, am I opposed to Medicaid expansion? The answer is yes.”
Hundreds of voters gathered at the State Capitol to protest changes to Prop 3, in a rally organized by healthcare advocates and faith leaders.
Sen. Christensen and Sen. Anderegg both introduced bills aiming to repeal Prop 3. Christensen’s bill would repeal full Medicaid expansion and instead require the state to submit a federal waiver for partial expansion with enrollment caps and work requirements. Anderegg’s bill would repeal Medicaid expansion outright. The Salt Lake Tribune reports an analysis conducted by the Utah Health Policy Project showing Prop 3 passed in 17 of Utah’s 29 Senate districts.
In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Sen. Christensen said he was introducing legislation to change Prop 3 to include enrollment caps and work requirements. Because his bill would require a federal waiver, it would delay the April 1, 2019 implementation date of full Medicaid expansion.
Fox 13 reports that lawmakers are considering making tax adjustments to ensure that Prop 3 is funded. House Speaker Brad Wilson said, “We have a framework that provides [coverage], but we might put in place a few bumpers.” Wilson also questioned whether Medicaid expansion should come with a work requirement.
KUER reports that Sen. Allen Christensen, a long-time opponent of Medicaid expansion, will propose adding work requirements to the law passed under Proposition 3.
During his monthly news conference, Governor Gary Herbert said he does not support repealing the proposition; however, he believe changes may need to be made, including funding structures and the adding of a work requirement
Following the vote of approval, Sen. Anderegg reversed his previous position on repealing the proposition.
The Utah Department of Health announced it had asked the Trump administration to indefinitely suspend any pending Medicaid waivers, and that the Department was on track to begin benefits under the approved Medicaid expansion in April 2019.
Voters approved the proposition by a vote of 53.3% to 46.7%.
State Senator Jake Anderegg R-Lehi announced he would run a bill during the coming legislative session to repeal Proposition 3 if it passes.
Pitting themselves against a wide array of groups supporting the proposition, Americans for Prosperity launches grassroots campaign to oppose the proposition
After gathering 147,280 verified signatures, the proposition was certified to be on the November 2018 ballot.
Utah Independent Redistricting Commission and Standards Act
The Deseret News reports Sen. Todd Weiler is encouraging the Utah Legislature to sue over the constitutionality of Prop 4, although a lawsuit is “not yet” in the works. Sen. Okerlund said lawmakers are considering a lawsuit, and that “there are a number of options that we will be looking at.”
LaVarr Webb, a Utah publisher and lobbyist, argues Proposition 4 may have won statewide vote, but most likely lost in total number of legislative districts, making it easier for lawmakers to justify gutting the law
Following the canvass by Utah counties of their election results, the proposition was approved by a narrow vote of 50.3% to 49.7%.
Results are too close to call the fate of the proposition on election night
Despite support from a bipartisan group of community leaders, Republican lawmakers, led by State Senator Ralph Okerlund begin opposing the proposition, claiming its disguised measure to assist Democrats.
The League of Women Voters of Utah holds a “gerry-meander” 5k in support of Proposition 4.
After gathering 150,082 verified signatures, the proposition was certified to be on the November 2018 ballot.
The Initiative Process
- S.B. 33, Political Procedures Amendments, signed by the governor.
- S.B. 123, Election Process Amendments, vetoed by the Governor.
- S.B. 151, Initiative Procedure Amendments, signed by Governor.
- H.B. 119, Initiatives, Referenda, and Other Political Activities, signed by Governor.
- H.B. 133, Initiative Amendments, signed by Governor.
- H.B. 145, Citizen Political Process Amendments, signed by Governor.
- H.B. 195, Initiative and Referendum Amendments, signed by Governor.
- H.B. 195, Initiative and Referendum Amendments, by Rep. Handy passed 61 – 7. This bill changes the signatures needed for an initiative from 10% of voters in the last presidential election to 8% of active voters.
- S.B. 123, Election Process Amendments by Sen. McCay passed 19 to 8. This limits voter participation in special elections with only party insiders choosing to fill a vacant seat, and removes Governor’s Senate replacement appointment power.
- H.B. 119, Initiatives, Referenda, and Other Political Activities by Rep. Daw passed 59-12. It allows voter info to be published and available to the public, blocks public entities from advocating for or against initiatives, determines if an initiative is legally referable to voters.
- H.B. 145, Citizen Political Process Amendments by Rep. Thurston passed 50 – 21. It requires signature packet are given to county clerks 30 days after they’ve started, requires county clerks publish names of signatories, criminalizes paying for a signature or removal or falsifying a date.
- H.B. 133, Initiative Amendments, by Rep. Daw passed 50-20. This bill delays implementation of initiatives passed by votes if the initiative involves a tax increase.
S.B. 151, Initiative Procedure Amendments, by Sen. Henderson passed 54-16. This bill requires funding sources are included in initiative applications and 50 copies of the fiscal impact statement are available at public hearings.
The House passed three billsthat would change various aspects of the ballot initiative process: HB 133, which delays implementation of ballot initiatives (over a year for initiatives involving a tax increase); HB 145, which creates rolling tallies for signature gathering and removal; and HB 195, which slightly increases the signatures needed for a ballot initiative and moves up the signature gathering deadline.
Bills Introduced This Session
- HB 88, Statewide Initiative Process Amendments (Rep. Nelson) changes the signature removal deadline to match the signature gathering deadline.
- HB 119, Initiatives, Referenda, and Other Political Activities (Rep. Daw) Allows election officers to publish a voter info pamphlet for local initiatives and referenda with arguments for and against; blocks public entities from advocating for or against initiatives; establishes a process to determine if an initiative is legally referable to voters.
- HB 133, Initiative Amendments (Rep. Daw) delays the implementation of an initiative passed by votes if the initiative involves a tax increase.
- HB 145, Citizen Political Process Amendments (Rep. Thurston) requires signature packet to be turned in to county clerks 30 days after starting them; requires county clerks to post names of signatories on the county website; criminalizes paying for a signature or removal or falsifying a date.
- HB 195, Initiative and Referendum Amendments (Rep. Handy) changes the signatures needed for an initiative from 10% of voters in the last presidential election to 8% of active voters.
- SB 33, Political Procedures Amendments (Sen. Harper) clarifies length limitations for arguments for and against ballot propositions; expands notice requirements for public hearings on initiatives.
- SB 151, Initiative Procedure Amendments (Sen. Henderson) requires funding sources for the proposed law to be included in the initiative application and 50 print copies of the fiscal impact statement to be available at public hearings.