|In addition, the bill reestablishes a salary supplement program that gives a $1,000-2,000 salary increase to teachers that are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.|
H.B. 6001, Uniform Electronic Wills Act Electronic Wills
Enacts the Uniform Electronic Wills Act to affirm that a person can finalize a will electronically, using video conferencing, without the direct presence of the person making the will or acting as a witness.
S.B. 6009, Cares Act and COVID-19 Assistance and Recovery Amendments
This bill makes some changes to seven economic assistance programs the state created earlier this year to assist some individuals and industries. The adjustments are in response to observations of the strengths, weaknesses, and popularity of certain programs. The bill makes changes the following programs and, through H.B. 6002, increases and reallocates funding for these programs:
Agricultural Operation Grant Program
This program has only used $12 million of the original $20 million it was appropriated. In order to ensure the funding is able to get to those who need it, the bill removes $20,000 and $40,000 caps on the amount of grants the Department of Agriculture is allowed to award under the program.
Individual Rental Assistance for COVID-19
The bill changes qualifying thresholds for a resident to receive rental assistance. Instead of being required to demonstrate financial hardship, an individual must demonstrate a negative impact from COVID-19. The bill also allows a landlord to apply for assistance on behalf of a tenant, requiring that the grant funds be applied toward the tenant’s rent. Because there have been fewer applicants than the known need, the bill allows the Department of Workforce Services to use a portion of program funds for outreach.
Commercial Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program
This program has used $13 million of the $30 million it was appropriated. In order to ensure the program is accomplishing its objective, this bill expands the program to provide mortgage assistance to businesses. The bill also increases the size of businesses that can qualify, including those with up to 250 full-time equivalent employees. It also allows startup businesses to receive rental or mortgage assistance if they can demonstrate a net operating loss over a four-week period. Finally, the bill changes the amount of funds a business may receive under the program to $5,000 per month per location, capping at a total of $30,000.
Cultural Assistance Grant Program
This program has expended all of the funds appropriated to it. The Legislature appropriated an additional $7.5 million to the program and removed a threshold stating that a recipient must provide at least 50 percent of grant funds as a direct benefit to consumers. It also lowered the threshold for the size of an organization that can qualify for a grant to organizations with a $300,000 budget.
Utah Works Program
This high-demand program has already expended the $9 million originally appropriated for it. This bill gives the program an additional $7.5 million.
PPE Support Grant Program
This program has expended $5 million of the $1 million appropriated to it. In order to ensure the program reaches the targeted businesses, the bill increases from $100 to $250 per full-time equivalent employee the amount of funds a business may receive to purchase personal protective equipment.
Impacted Business Grant Program
The most popular of the state’s economic assistance programs, it has expended all of the $25 million and an additional $10 million appropriated. The Legislature appropriated another $20 million for the program and allowed startup businesses to participate in the program. To better control the distribution of funds, the bill also includes graduated amounts a business can receive depending upon the revenue loss the business realized.
Oil, Mining, and Gas Grant Program
The bill creates the Oil, Mining, and Gas Grant Program within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to give grants to Oil, Mining, and Gas companies that have suffered revenue declines due to COVID-19. The office establishes an application process and qualifying criteria and may extend grants to an affected company equal to the amount of revenue decline the company realized.
Because federal CARES Act funds must be expended before the end of the year and some programs addressed in the bill are expected to have a higher demand than others, the bill allows the executive branch to shift funds from low to high-demand programs without legislative action.
Finally, the bill affirms the 120-day moratorium on evictions created through the federal CARES Act and affirms the state’s law providing three days for a tenant o cure an eviction notice.
H.B. 6003, Premium Subsidies Amendments
The Utah Premium Partnership for Health Insurance program subsidizes insurance premiums for individuals who make just enough to not qualify for Medicaid. It directs the Department of Health to seek a waiver from the federal government to increase the premium subsidy under the program from $150 to $300. It also authorizes increased premium subsidies in future years.
S.B. 6006, Department of Health Executive Director Qualifications
This bill changes requirements for the executive leadership of the Utah Department of Health. If the executive director of the department is not a physician, a physician is required as a deputy director. During committee and floor debate, it was pointed out how difficult it can be to find a physician with the necessary managerial and administrative experience to lead one of the largest state agencies in Utah. State law has never required a physician to lead the agency, so this change ensures that a physician will be in the director or deputy director role. It also stipulates that a deputy director must have at least five years of professional experience in public health programs.
S.B. 6003, Law Enforcement Tuition Reimbursement
Reopens the Public Safety Officer Career Advancement Reimbursement Program for new applicants and ensures the availability of funding for eligible applicants on a pro-rata basis.
H.B. 6007, Municipal Annexation Revisions
Repeals provisions of a bill passed during the 2020 General Session, H.B. 359, Municipal Annexation Revisions, that allow a municipality to annex an unincorporated area without the consent of the county in which the area is located.
S.J.R. 601, Concurrent Resolution on Federal Government Payment in Lieu of Taxes
The federal payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) program is intended to compensate states for foregone property tax revenue they are unable to collect because they cannot place a property tax on federal lands. The resolution calls upon Congress and the president of the United States to pay the state much more under the PILT program to accurately reflect the amount of property tax the state would be receiving from federally controlled lands if they were subject to the state’s property tax.
State Data (as of August 25th)
Total Cases: 49,767
Total People Tested: 630,599
Total Hospitalizations: 2,969
Total Deaths: 397
Estimated Recovered: 41,529
Bear River Health Department
Total Cases: 2,488
Box Elder: 431
Box Elder: 329
Box Elder: 3
In the News:
FDA authorizes COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) to treat virus patients
Do masks that protect against COVID-19 also protect against air pollution? The answer is complicated
New virus cases decline in the US and experts credit masks
Saliva works just as well as deep nasal swab in detecting COVID-19, Utah researchers find
Utah man charged after he coughs on cops, claiming he has coronavirus
I Look Forward to Hearing from You!
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I’ll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.
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I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.
Until next time,
Senate District 17