SIXTH SPECIAL SESSION
Two years ago, the legislature passed a bill giving the ability to call itself into special session. Since then, we have been busy.
A proclamation from Senate President Adams and Speaker Wilson went out today saying “that at least two-thirds of the members of the Utah Senate and at least two-thirds of the members of the Utah House of Representatives are in favor of convening the Legislature into a special session because of the COVID-19 emergency and the economic consequences of that emergency.”
Our sixth special session will be on Thursday, August 20th, beginning at 10:00 am. It will be a very long day with 22 bills to discuss.
None of the bills are available for reading yet. I have been given brief synopses of the bills, but until I can read them, I am not sure exactly what they will contain. The bills will show up as they are ready on le.utah.gov. Go to the bottom left, and click on Resources. “2020 Sixth General Session” will pop up with links to the bills as they are drafted and numbered. You can also watch and listen to the session by clicking on 2020S6 Main Page and then clicking on the audio and video links that will be available on Thursday.
NOT A FAN
I was not part of the two thirds in favor of calling ourselves into a special session and would rather the call came from the governor, if needed. The branch of government that issues the call gets to decide what bills will be included in the special session, and it seems like there is a lot more legislation put on the call when it is from the legislative branch. But I have limited experience, so maybe my impressions are incorrect about that.
The only bills that should be debated in a special session are those that cannot wait for the next general session to be discussed. This is because there is not time to vet special session bills. There are some issues, mostly because of budget concerns and coronavirus, that are time sensitive and that have to be taken care of before this February. I am not convinced that all these bills fall in that category.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
One of the main reasons for this special session is to vote on extending the state of emergency. I voted no on extending last special session, and plan on voting no again. A reason being given to vote yes is so that we can receive federal relief money. However, I spoke to our chief fiscal analyst today and asked him if it was true that we couldn’t accept federal money without an emergency declaration. He said that the federal money was contingent on the federal declaration, not our state one, and we could accept the money without being in a state of emergency.
Additionally, if the legislature does not vote to extend the state of emergency, and the governor feels it is necessary, he can declare a new 30 day state of emergency without legislative approval.
We have interim meetings this week. You can find out when meetings are being held by going to the calendar on le.utah.gov. If you click on the meeting, you can find the agenda, meeting materials, and can listen to the audio.You can also request to provide public comment.
Best of luck to all students, parents, and educators as you navigate your way through this crazy time. As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, issues, or concerns that you have.
Representative Marsha Judkins