On Thursday and Friday, the Utah House met for our Special Session to address issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was very different to meet online–it was definitely less enjoyable and made it more difficult to collaborate–but our tech crew at the Capitol did such a good job of setting it up so that we could conform to open meeting laws. We passed 14 bills, and will come back next week on Thursday to debate additional bills. At the end of this email are links and brief explanations about all the bills we passed, but I wanted to spend a bit of time on a bill that was not presented: HB 3009 Local Government Emergency Response.

I have been answering texts, emails, and phone calls about HB 3009 since it was numbered expressing concern about this bill expanding the power of local governments to issue orders of constraint, which are defined in lines 96-109. However, this is only a definition so that we know what types of orders are restricted by the provisions of the bill–it is not a new grant of authority to issue such order. This bill DOES NOT create new powers for local officials to issue orders of constraint or restrict assembly, free movement, and property rights. Instead, it limits how and when these constraints can be issued.

Libertas published an article that very clearly states what this bill does, which you can read here. Several of the most important points are that it 

  • requires an order of constraint to expire within 14 days (if it doesn’t expire earlier as ordered by the executive, or if vetoed by the governor),
  • allows the legislative body (the legislature or the city/county council) to reauthorize and extend the order;
  • prohibits a local government from re-issuing or extending an order that has been vetoed by the governor;
  • requires the chief executive to consult with the health department in issuing an order;
  • prohibits the health department from issuing their own orders unilaterally any more, and requires them to work with and advise the chief executive and legislative body;
  • forces all existing orders in Utah to expire on May 1 (for those that don’t expire earlier) unless extended by their respective legislative bodies;
  • allows the governor to override, for consistency, any local order that conflicts; and
  • allows a civil penalty of $1,000 to be imposed upon a person who has tested positive for a pandemic disease, has been explicitly and directly ordered by the health department to stay at home for quarantine purposes, and who violates that order (thus endangering others).

I have to admit that this bill is a lot to try and understand in one or two days. It has taken me a lot study and discussion with colleagues, the sponsor, and constituents to get to a point where I feel I understand most of it. Also, there are parts that need more clarification and work. Because of the misunderstandings and outcry over this bill, the sponsor has chosen to delay the debate until next week. This will give more time for input for any needed changes. Because of the complexity, it might be broken up into several, more focused, bills.


Here are the links and very short (believe it or not) explanations. 

HB 3001 Bond Amendments–activates the Working Rainy Day Fund by removing the 50% cap on borrowing (raising it to about 52%). It allows the State Treasurer to execute bonds already authorized in statute for highway projects and the state prison which will free up cash that can be used to plug future budget holes. This is a good fiscal move and we will retain our AAA bond rating.

HB 3002 Appropriations Revisions–addresses provisions relating to state budget implementation and reporting requirements.

HB 3003 Income Tax Revisions–modifies income tax filing and payment deadlines to align with the federal changes due to coronavirus.

HB 3006 Election Amendments— makes temporary changes to the election code that apply only to the 2020 regular primary election. It establishes a process for a county to qualify as a mobile voting county that provides limited drive-up voting on election day and provides for accessible voting options for a voter with a disability.

  • except for a mobile voting county, the election will be conducted entirely by mail;
  •  except for a mobile voting county, there will be no polling places on election day;
  • there will be no in person early voting;
  • there will be no in person voter registration;
  • there will be no voter registration by provisional ballot;
  • the voter registration deadline is 11 days before the day of the election; and
  • the postmark deadline for mailing a ballot is extended to the day of the election.

This seems a little extreme, but we want to make sure we are prepared ahead of time for any possible issues that might linger. 

HB 3007 COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Amendments for First Responders–creates a presumption that if an emergency responder or health care provider contracts the coronavirus, that the individual did so on the job and is permitted to file a workers’ compensation claim.

HCR 301 Concurrent Resolution Honoring Healthcare Workers and Others–acknowledges the disruptions caused by the spread of COVID19 and expresses gratitude on behalf of the Legislature and the Governor to the individuals and organizations responding to the pandemic.

HJR 301 Joint Resolution Urging Fiscal Responsibility–urges government entities to cautiously spend remaining fiscal year 2020 resources and avoid making commitments that will increase spending in fiscal year 2021. With everything that has happened with the economy, we don’t know where we will end up budget-wise at the end of all this.

HJR 302 Joint Resolution Extending the State of Emergency Due to 5.7 Magnitude Earthquake–extends the state of emergency due to the earthquake on March 20th to May 18, 2020. This allows us to apply for federal, and interstate resources to address damages. There has been continuing damage to homes and businesses in Salt Lake County from the earthquake and the hundreds of aftershocks still occurring.

SB 3001 Pandemic Response Appropriations Adjustments–to balance the budget between fiscal years because of the income tax filing delay, this bill temporarily moves capital projects funds that are not immediately needed, and also temporarily moves nonlapsing  2020 balances and restores them in 2021. This bill also appropriates targeted portions of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act and the CARES Act.

SB 3002 Emergency Health Care Access and Immunity Amendments–expands access to certain treatments and creates limited immunity for  health care providers who provide an investigational drug or device to a patient during a major public health emergency.

S.B. 3003 Unemployment Benefits Amendments–waives the one week waiting period to receive unemployment if a state of emergency has been declared or the federal government has agreed to pay for the benefit.

S.B. 3004 COVID-19 Health and Economic Response Act–creates the Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission to advise and make recommendations to the governor regarding the state’s response to the COVID-19 emergency, including identifying economic and health guidance levels to assess risk. The bill requires the commission to present a plan to the governor on or before April 22,  to start opening up the economy and for the governor to either implement the plan or issue a public statement explaining the decision not to implement the plan.  

SB 3005 Education Modifications–waives certain statutory requirements impacted by school closures in the 2019-20 school year, such as year-end assessments and teacher evaluations.

SJR 301 Joint Resolution Approving Acceptance of Federal Funds in Response to COVID-19–approves acceptance by the State of Utah federal funds issued to combat the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I know this was super long, but a lot has happened over the last few days. Please let me know if you have any questions. 

  1. Pamela Grammer says:

    can this voting at home mess up the results or be made to look like someone won when thry did not in fact win also could illegal’s be voting where they should not be it just seems like the results could be fixed just an honest answer

    • Marsha Judkins says:

      Pamela, these are great questions. I spoke to Amelia Powers, our County clerk, about these very concerns. She explained the process for distributing and counting ballots, and assured me that they were doing everything possible to avoid any kind of fraud. She also invited me and anyone else to go and see how the ballot counting process works. I’m going to take her up on it sometime next week. I’m sure she would be more than happy to have you come and see the process and answer any questions that you have.

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