Utah Legislature: Special Session

Last updated 4/15/2020

The Legislature has posted a number of things they hope to cover during the special session (which starts April 16th). The biggest items will be figuring out the budget, making sure people and businesses are going to be okay, and what to do about state education now that everything has moved online. Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

1 – Whether to accept funds from the United States federal government.
2 – How to adjust the budget.
3 – How much to increase our state’s debt (in the form of bonds).
4 – More budget stuff — implementing changes and reporting requirements
5 – Unemployment insurance — less waiting time for applicants (but not everybody)
6 – Worker’s Compensation — cover certain first responders
7 – Retirement plan distributions — look at income tax provisions
8 – Economic recovery — establishing protocols, requirements and processes
9 – How to help Utah businesses and residents
10 – Changing requirements for responding to pandemic emergencies – STATE level
11 – Same as number 10, but for the LOCAL level
12 – Figuring out how to make it easier for infected patients to obtain safe medications
13 – Protecting medical professionals and health care facilities from being sued
14 – Deciding what to do about this year’s elections in November (the primary election)
15 – Looking at municipal annexation requirements. (This refers to cities expanding their borders to include additional areas. This would impact people living within a county line, but outside of a city limit.)
16 – Make changes to sales and use tax on fuel for trains.
17 – Provide scholarships for students with disabilities to attend qualifying private schools. Also create tax credit for donors of the scholarship program
18 – Encourage state and local government organizations to use their money wisely.
19 – Look at education — changing requirements (like grades, graduation, testing, etc.) to accommodate the emergency.
20 – Create a statement expressing unity with the Chinese people.
21 – Protect infected people and organizations from getting sued over exposure.

The official document with this information can be found at https://le.utah.gov/~2020S3/2020S3.HTM

The Utah Legislature is in session for only 45 days out of the year. In that time (from mid January to mid March) official business can be conducted, such as pass bills and budgets. From late March to early January, the legislature has what’s called an interim session when bills and budgets can be discussed, but nothing can be passed into law.

So when important things come up, like this whole — I don’t know — COVID-19 thing, there are times when the legislature will call for a special session when official business can be made. This involves the governor too and with together the legislature can get things done to address certain needs outside of the regular session.

Video – Special Legislative Session: What is it and what you should know?

But what exactly do they plan to discuss? What are some of the issues?

For one, the budget. With the federal income tax deadline extended to July 15 our own state budget is impacted and will need to be evaluated and adjusted. There’s also the federal funds that have been extended to certain industries. This may also impact the legislature’s planned budget. During this special session law-makers can look at immediate needs and respond accordingly.

Along with budget concerns, the legislature may discuss what appropriate responses should be made by the government for transitioning once we are ready to reopening various businesses that have had to close because of COVID-19.

While in session, the legislature may also discuss other bills that are not related to the current pressing needs, but that they feel are important business to conduct while they are in special session.

The biggest question right now? How will the public have access to this session? Usually legislative sessions are open to the public. With social distancing and the session being conducted virtually, the question is whether this session will be accessible to the public. Consider contacting your legislature if you would be interested in making this session accessible.

Not sure who your legislators are? Go to le.utah.gov and put in your physical address to find out who represents you. You will also find their contact information on that website.

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