GOVERNMENT

Utah State Senate passes several COVID-19 bills during their first-ever virtual session

Apr 16, 2020, 9:05 PM
CARES Act funding must be spent allocated...
FILE: United States and Utah flags flying in the wind in from of the Capitol Building, Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah State Senate’s first-ever virtual session had a late start due to a worldwide Cisco Webex outage. Once the Senators switched to a different platform, however, several COVID-19 related bills were passed, though not without some tough questions.

The Utah State Senate voted unanimously in favor of a budget bill that would set aside $108 million of federal COVID-19 stimulus money to help the state deal with the pandemic. The money would go towards things like buying personal protective gear or offering loans to small businesses. This also means payments to schools could be delayed since Utahns are being allowed to file their income taxes later.

A bill to loosen the graduation requirements for students impacted by COVID-19 also passed unanimously, as did a resolution accepting federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Among the other bills, Sen. Ann Millner’s (R-Ogden) that would temporarily waive the one week waiting period for getting unemployment benefits also sailed through.

Senate Bill 3002, known as the “right to try” law, was one of the more controversial bills that passed.

SB3002 builds on Utah’s existing right to try law by expanding legal immunity to doctors who use experimental medications to treat COVID-19 patients, as well as FDA-approved but off-label drugs. Those doctors would have to discuss the risks with their patients.

Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers (R-Cedar City) sponsored the bill.

“This simply sets up a process…that allows the physician to use that medication after going through all the traditional protocols and indicating that they feel comfortable recommending and proscribing that medication,” Vickers said.

There were concerns about whether patients who do not speak English would be able to understand the risks of the medication, as well as whether it would protect doctors or nursing homes acting negligently.

Senator Vickers argued the bill does address both those issues. Although it passed with one “no” vote, the bill is expected to be worked on later in the session.

The most contentious bill was Senate Bill 3004, which would create a “Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission to advise and make recommendations to the governor regarding the state’s response to the COVID-19 emergency”.

The advisory committee would work with the governor on a plan to open up Utah’s economy, which has taken a hit because of COVID-19. The recommendations would be only that–recommendations which the governor could ignore.

There had been some controversy about whether the law would override local control.

Senator Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake City) was also among many senators who raised questions about whether “dollars” would be put ahead of people’s health.

Senator Dan Hemmert (R-Orem), who sponsored the bill, disagrees with an either-or scenario.

“I think it is time to start working toward reopening the economy, and this commission is tasked with figuring out a way to do that safely that doesn’t overrule or overlook public health,” Hemmert said.

SB 3004 ultimately passed.

The Utah State Senate also passed several House bills, but not the one which would curb the governor’s powers in an emergency.

 

Government

Sen. Mike Lee will go to a primary election, but face no Democrat opponent....
Kira Hoffelmeyer and Lindsay Aerts

Utah Democrats will back an independent Evan McMullin, John Curtis facing primary challenger

Utah Democrats won't be putting forward a challenger for Republican Sen. Mike Lee but instead joining forces with an independent name. 
4 months ago
FILE - House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., responds to reporters at the Capitol in Wash...
The Associated Press

McCarthy, Trump have ‘positive’ call despite Jan. 6 audio

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had a positive phone call with then President Donald Trump.
4 months ago
Inflation caused gas to skyrocket....
Curt Gresseth

Sen. Mitt Romney talks inflation and economy

High home and gas prices and inflation, are causing real hardships for Utahns and Democrats will be blamed by voters, Sen. Mitt Romney told Inside Sources.
4 months ago
West High Students at their walkout. H.B. 11 Survey said over half of utahns approved....
Devin Oldroyd

Poll shows Utah men support transgender athlete ban more than Utah women

According to the survey, 51% of men strongly support H.B. 11, and only 37% of women do.
4 months ago
Cherie Wood...
Curt Gresseth

South Salt Lake mayor defends new $130,000 salary

The mayor of South Salt Lake defended her latest salary of $130,000 by saying she hasn't received a pay raise in 11 years in office.
4 months ago
South Salt Lake at Southern X-posure, the site of a deadly shooting....
Curt Gresseth

South Salt Lake resident wants to stop mayor and City Council from awarding themselves raises

A South Salt Lake resident has taken his ballot initiative on pay raises for city leaders to the Utah Supreme Court after being rebuffed by the city attorney on what he said was a technicality.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Prescription opioid...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Utah State Senate passes several COVID-19 bills during their first-ever virtual session