The Utah Senate and House of Representatives closed out its second week of its 45-day legislative session. So far, there have been 30 bills that have passed the floor debates and are waiting to be signed by Gov. Gary Herbert.
One of the bills gaining the most attention is HB207: a bill that would cap co-pays for insulin at $30 for a 30-day supply. Several Utahns from across the state gathered at Capitol Hill Thursday to testify in front of the hearing committee to give their case.
Many cited instances where they’ve paid up to $2,000 a month for insulin alone — not counting the supplies and equipment also needed for the life-saving medication.
Others pointed to instances where they’ve had to ration their insulin because they couldn’t afford the co-pay at the time, or when there was miscommunication between the doctor and the pharmacy so they had to wait a couple extra days.
Under the bill, those who need insulin and are insured won’t have to pay more than $30 for their insulin. It would also allow some state employees to purchase insulin at a discount.
For others, it would solve problems by authorizing pharmacists to dispense insulin in the case where the patient wasn’t able to visit the doctor in time to renew their prescription.
Utah isn’t the first to propose legislation like this, with Colorado passing a similar bill just last year.
Check out some of the other highlights from the week:
Lawmakers urge to censure Romney
Closing out a contentious week of the end of the weeks-long impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, some lawmakers are bringing the issue close to home.
The Senate acquitted the president of two charges of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The trial was brought to an end Wednesday when the Senate called for a final vote.
Senators voted almost completely within party lines. Except for one Senate Republican: Mitt Romney of Utah.
Romney voted ‘Guilty’ on the charge of abuse of power, being the only Republican to vote to remove the president from office. This turned heads across the country, including in his home state.
The day after the historic vote, Rep. Phil Lyman of Utah proposed a bil to censure Mitt Romney. The bill would publicly express disapproval of the senator, showing that he went against what the party wished for or expected.
However, it won’t remove him from office.
Lyman said he mulled over proposing this bill before Romney voted in the Senate trial.
Protecting those in polygamous groups
Sen. Diedre Henderson is proposing a bil that argues the current Utah law should change to better protect victims in polygamous communities. It would do this by combatting the culture of fear and abuse.
The bill would lessen the punishment of bigamy to become an infraction of the law, similar to a traffic ticket or violation.
However, if the crime was paired with other offenses — such as domestic violence or child bride marriages — it would be charged as a second-degree felony.
Henderson said the intention behind the bill is to lower the barriers of supporting polygamous families in the state. But, some groups that support polygamy say this will only increase barriers against them.
Anti-polygamy groups are vowing to fight this bill when it’s presented on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers look to expand hiking trails
Rep. Mike Winder proposed a bill that would allow governments to use its eminent domain to carve out more extensive trails in Utah.
With this eminent domain, the government can take and use land as long as the landowner is properly compensated. The government’s ability to use its eminent domain to create hiking trails was overturned in 2008 with another bill that was implemented.
With this bill, Winder intends to reinstate that right. Winder said that through this bill he wants to create a “regionally significant trail system” throughout Utah, with trails extending throughout cities and neighborhoods.
Many of these trail systems are already seen in Utah, like the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
The bill would allow for trails that are at least three feet in width and could be used for walking, jogging, biking, horseback riding, etc.
Changes to ordering alcohol in restaurants
Several restaurants in Utah have rules against underage waiters taking orders on alcoholic drinks. Other restaurants don’t allow minors into a facility that serves alcohol.
This bill wants to make some slight changes to that.
With this new bill, it would allow waiters who are at least 18 years old to give information on alcoholic drinks that are available. It would also allow them to take the order.
The bill would still prohibit the underage waiter from handling the alcohol, requiring someone 21 years old or older to bring it to the table, but they are able to bring the order to the kitchen.
It would also allow employees who bus tables who are at least 16 years old to clean off empty alcohol bottles from tables during their shifts.