Friday, March 8, 2013

General Session 2013: Week 6 Update - Palace Intrigue, Ambush, and Hip Hop

This past week has been quite interesting.


HB93 finally came back to the House for us to ratify the amendments we made a couple weeks ago in Senate committee.



Our Business and Labor Committee hears a variety of heavy hitting subjects.  On Tuesday, we heard a bill from a colleague in Salt Lake City who proposed making height and weight protected classes.  His bill would allow employees to sue if their employer failed to make accommodations to their perceived height and weight idiosyncrasies.  This is probably one of the most ill advised ideas I have heard all Session.  Fortunately, we let the bill die.



My good friend and colleague in the Senate, Senator Stuart Reid, ran and passed a great Sexual Education bill that encouraged parents to speak to their children on the subject.  The idea was to encourage training in the home rather than having the different perspectives on values and ethics of the subject be politicized.  The bill, SB39, passed the Senate unanimously.

I thought the bill would be a slam dunk.  You can imagine my surprise when my floor presentation instead turned into a bloody ambush.  Out of 75 colleagues, only 16 could stomach a 'yea' vote.  Immediately following the bill's inglorious defeat, the Speaker Pro Tem was kind enough to come back to me for a brief final follow up statement.    


After floor time, we adjourned and headed to our final Business and Labor Committee meeting.  We had 12 bills on the agenda for the evening.  Here were the highlights:

  • We heard HB140 from Stewart Barlow which is a fantastic bill.  It creates a competitive market among health service providers by allowing deductibles to be transferable across medical provider groups.  This places them in competition and sparks innovation and cost savings.  Amazingly, by eliminating the bureaucracy associated with insurance billing, medical costs can be reduced as much as 35% according to the Representative (who happens to be a physician).  This was one of the best ideas I have heard all Session.    
  • We also heard HB153 which would mandate Medicaid Expansion.  This bill came with an expensive  fiscal note.  If the State opted to increase its participation in Medicaid, it would step over dollars to save pennies.  The numbers don't look good.
  • Finally we heard HB391 which started out as an Obamacare Nullification bill.  Since the Supreme Court ruled this past summer, interest in the nullification movement has fizzled.  However, through some palace intrigue, one of my colleagues on the Committee hijacked the bill and converted it into a Medicaid Non-Expansion bill.  The bill sponsor acquiesced and our committee voted the bill out to the shock of all the Medicaid supporters in the room.  NOTE:  The Governor has explicit authority to expand or not expand Medicaid.  However, our bill will give the House an opportunity to air the issue and give the people of the State an venue to express their feelings through their Representatives.  The House will go on record on the issue and be part of the discussion.  I highly doubt the Governor would sign the bill and abscond from his existing authority.  Nevertheless, it brings this important issue to the forefront and begins to frame the debate on the subject before the Governor makes his decision this summer. LISTEN TO THE COMMITTEE COUP HERE.

Since floor time has started to heat up, comic relief is often required to cool things down.  I have taken my Third House responsibilities serious enough to know exactly when not to be serious at all.  

So, on Thursday during lunch I took Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" (released August 1990) and reworked it to jive with our Legislative work.  I am pretty sure this is a 'first' on the House Floor as well.  

Finally, after floor time ended for the day, leadership removed all the bills on our board and sent them back to the Rules Committee for prioritization.  This is where things really start to get interesting.  Our final day to debate and pass House bills is Monday.  We will be working on Senate bills thereafter to the end of Session at Midnight next Thursday.


Friday saw some important debate.  We debated HB114 for 90 minutes.  The bill declares that Utah gun laws are superior to Federal gun laws when the two are in conflict with one another.  It passed overwhelmingly after we were done debating.    

We also made fine tuned changes to our budget as we prepared to tie a bow on State finances next week. 


Watch for the debate to accelerate and reach 'Ludicrous Speed' (to use a Spaceballs term) as the House finishes up House bills on Monday and then dives full bore into Senate bills.  Watch for the House and Senate to lock horns over getting priority bills passed as well.  Alcohol bills should make for an interesting case study in bicameral negotiations.  The final drama is about to unfold.  


  1. I would like to see the entire House do the Harlem Shake on the last day of session.

  2. I thought the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution states that federal law takes precedence over state law. Doesn't that make HB114 unconstitutional?


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