Legislative Update: Week #4
HJR 8, Joint Resolution Supporting the Retention of Public Educators
This week the House passed, by a vote of 62-7, H.J.R. 8, Joint Resolution Supporting the Retention of Public Educators. The resolution recognizes the shortage of credentialed public educators in the state, acknowledges the critical nature of public education to Utah’s prosperity and lays out a mechanism for potentially increasing educator salaries.
Because almost 64 percent of Utah is controlled by the federal government, educational opportunities and funding options are severely constrained. Nearly 65 percent of state tax dollars are dedicated to education in our state. Even when combined with federal dollars, over 40 percent of our funds are dedicated for this purpose, the highest level in the nation.
The resolution ends by proposing that 50 percent of any new ongoing revenue from the management of public lands transferred from the federal government to the state would be used to increase salaries of public school teachers.
We know the state is able to manage its lands well for education. The School Institutional Trust Lands Administration, SITLA, currently manages parcels of public land throughout Utah for the benefit of education. The funds generated through activities on these lands are placed into the Permanent State School Fund, which has grown from $18 million in 1983 to over $2 billion in 2015. Interest generated from investments within the fund are then distributed as discretionary dollars for use by Utah’s public schools. This year alone those distributions totaled over $49 million on the management of only about 6 percent of our lands.
This resolution will allow our state to begin to prioritize the ways in which public lands-generated funds could be used and is one small step toward dealing with the issue of teacher retention and public education dollars.
HB 202, Trespass Amendments
The House recently passed H.B. 202, Trespass Amendments, with just one dissenting vote. This bill creates a new definition under the trespass statute called “long-term guest.” It would make it easier for an individual who invites someone into their home temporarily to rescind that invitation without being forced to go through the eviction process.
A long-term guest is defined in this bill as someone who is not a tenant but who is given permission by a resident to stay in their home for a period longer than 48 hours. There have been circumstances where, upon refusal to leave when asked, guests have attempted to establish rights to remain on the premises. Under this law, that guest would be guilty of criminal trespass and law enforcement action could be taken.
Utah, like many states, is facing an opioid epidemic that has led to hundreds of deaths. Seventy percent of those who misuse narcotics report obtaining the drugs from family, friends or off the street. The practice of illegally obtaining narcotics is commonly referred to as diversion.
H.B. 146, Partial Filling of a Schedule II Controlled Substance Prescription, would help reduce diversion by allowing a partial prescription to be filled instead of the full amount, upon request of the prescriber or patient. A partial fill is considered anything less than the initially prescribed quantity.
If a patient chooses multiple partial fills, the total amount allocated cannot exceed the total quantity prescribed and the cost cannot exceed the original cost of the full prescription.
H.B. 146 will empower patients and prescribers with the ability to request a partial fill of a Scheduled II drug, rather than depending on efforts to safely dispose of unused medication in the case that only a portion of the original prescription is needed.