Letter from Senator Hinkins

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving!

I am very grateful that you have given me the privilege to continue serving as a State Senator and I appreciate your support.

This month we came together once again at the Capitol for our final Interim meetings before the next General Session. Here are a few of the highlights:

Special Session

HB 4001 Solid Waste Amendments

In the last General Session, the Legislature passed a Solid Waste Amendments bill that clarified a couple definitions of terms. However, the EPA opposed the bill after it passed and so the governor vetoed the bill, but promised to bring it back in a Special Session, if a compromise could be reached. The bill that was brought back to the Senate for consideration excludes facilities that process scrap metal from the definition of “Solid Waste Management Facility”. The bill passed both chambers and will now return to the Governor for his signature.

HB 4002 Class B and C Roads Fund

In Utah, “Class A” roads are maintained by the State, “Class B” roads are maintained by counties and “Class C” roads are maintained by cities. This bill changes the apportion formula of funds from the gas tax you pay to ensure adequate and equitable funding for both Class B and Class C roads for the next two years. If this issue rings a bell to you, it is because it is an issue the legislature has attempted to work out a couple of times in the recent past as different bodies have approached the Legislature with their needs. This time, however, the Legislature required the League of Cities and Towns and the Utah Association of Counties to work together to find a compromise to their funding issues. The Legislature decided to wait to disperse the remaining funds of the year, until a compromise between the two groups could be reached. Both groups were able to reach a compromise, and so the legislature passed the bill (23-0 in the Senate and 66-1 in the House). Listen to the floor debate here.

Judicial Confirmations

This month proved to not only be a big month for the legislative branch with elections, but for Utah’s judicial branch as well since Governor Herbert appointed four new judges. Even though the Governor may appoint a person as a judge, it does not guarantee them the position. The Senate must consider and confirm each appointment. This time all four appointees were confirmed to their respective judgeships. We confirmed Robert Neill as a Judge of the Second District Juvenile Court, Anthony Howell as a Judge of the Fourth District Court, Robert Lunnen as a Judge of the Fourth District Court, and Kraig Powell as a Judge of the Fourth District Court.

Interim Issues

Medicaid Consensus Forecasting

Medicaid is an “optional” program, but if a state elects to offer the program, it must abide by strict federal regulations. Utah has opted to offer Medicaid to qualified individuals, which means there are certain minimum standards, particularly in funding, that must be met. The Executive Appropriations Committee received a Medicaid Forecasting as they begin to consider the budget for the following year. According to the forecast, due in part to a reduction of caseloads, the upcoming year the funding to Medicaid can/will reduce by $8.3 million as a one-time cost, but increase $10.8 million in the ongoing costs starting in FY 2018. To listen to the report or read the Issue briefclick here.

Competency-Based Learning

Competency-based learning means that a student passes a subject if they can prove they understand it, and not simply that they sat through a class for the full year or semester with an acceptable grade. In 2013, the Legislature passed a bill allowing schools to adopt competency-based education programs that would allow students to potentially graduate early. If a student shows mastery in a subject, they would not be required to wait for the end of the academic year or semester to advance. The opportunity has not been implemented very widely because schools fear they will lose funding by having students graduate early. One of the bills that the Legislature will consider this year would “reimburse” schools for students who graduate early through competency-based learning. This would eliminate any disincentive for implementing the program, but would not require schools to adopt the program. You can learn more about the issue by listening to the committee report here or you can read this article on the Deseret News.

Opioid Overdose

An integral part of combating the opioid overdose epidemic is expanding access to opiate antagonists, which can be used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. Last year, HB 192 appropriated $250,000 for an Opioid Overdose Pilot program.  One of the purposes of this program was to “Increase public awareness of, access to, and use of opiate antagonist”. This past month, the Utah Department of Health reported on the progress of the Beta Program. So far, the beta program has had two rounds. In round one, 1,033 kits were distributed. In round two, 2,150 Naloxone kits have been distributed. A key focus of the beta program is expanding access to Naloxone for police officers in rural areas since they often arrive on scene before Emergency Medical Personnel. You can listen to the audio here.

Energy Efficient Vehicle Tax Credit

For the last couple decades, Utah has offered modest tax credits to alternative fuel vehicles. The Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee, heard a presentation on a bill that would extend the current tax credits through 2021. This incentivizes using cleaner vehicles which helps keep our air clean. This was a controversial bill that narrowly passed the committee vote to adopt it as a committee bill. The legislators in opposition to this bill felt that the money lost via the tax credit could be better spent elsewhere. Those in support of this bill viewed it as a simple way to make a difference in our air and environment. You can learn more about this issue here.

What do you think?

Thanks for tuning in and getting involved! I’d love to hear your insights and opinions. I can be reached by email at dhinkins@le.utah.gov. You’re also welcome to join me at the capitol any time.

I’m 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!

Until next time,

David Hinkins, Senate District 27

Commissioners Report 11-15-16

November 15, 2016

veterans-dayVeterans Day

I had a great opportunity to attend two ceremonies paying tribute to our Veterans. I appreciate the opportunity I had to speak at one of them. Veterans deserve our respect for their service and sacrifice to our nation and the world in fighting for liberty and freedom.

To read a little bit more on the Castle Dale Program go to Emery County Progress

USU-E recently held a Business Conference who’s keynote speaker was Mike Turner from Utah Honor Flight. Honor Flight sends veterans to DC to see the memorials built in their honor. Many for those who wouldn’t be able to make it on their own, physically, monetarily or otherwise. For those interested in this you can go to utahhonorflight.org.

Temple Mountain Goblin Valley SRMA
Click for pdf version (12M)

Opportunity to Comment

The Price BLM office is seeking comments from the public on the proposed Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA). Comments for the scoping period will be accepted from November 4, 2016 through December 4, 2016.

They have already held two scoping meetings, one in Green River and the other in Castle Dale. Continue reading Commissioners Report 11-15-16

Lockdown

I recently had the opportunity to witness first hand the lockdown drills that our Emery County Sheriff’s Office (SO) conducts on a yearly basis with all the schools in our county. They meet ahead of time to plan and clear (the guns so they are not hot). They tape the guns with red electrical tape to show that the gun has been checked and cleared. In their lockdowns the SO invites other agencies. In the lockdowns in Green River some from the Highway Patrol were there. The SO recently started adding “bad guys” into the scenarios with their lockdowns. For the one at Book Cliff Elementary there was an unarmed perpetrator that the SO had to find by systematically clearing the building. In Green River they introduced two perps and both armed. Continue reading Lockdown

Letter from Senator Hinkins

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last week we held our monthly Interim meetings at the Capitol. It seems like we just ended last session and yet we now only have one interim day left until the next General Session. My how the time flies!

Here are some of the highlights from the meetings I attended:

Interim Highlights

Fiscal Health Check-up

Our budget forecasters in our Legislative Fiscal Analyst Office are exceptionally good at what they do. This year they accurately projected the State of Utah’s 2016 revenue collections. This is a big deal because the projections are what help to inform the legislature as we plan for the budget each session, and the more accurate our projections, the sounder our budget. Utah ended Fiscal Year 2016 with $18.7 million unspent. Our General Rainy Day Reserves are up 1.7% from last year. We are in a good place financially. Listen to the Fiscal Health Check-Up here. Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins

Commissioners Report 10-4-16

October 4, 2016

First, a quick thank you to the road department for keeping up on the roads through these summer rains and floods. We have had numerous people thank us for the quality of the roads so we wanted to pass that on.

Utah Heroin and Opioid Summit

The big take away from this summit is that opioid prescriptions are a problem that are leading to addiction, heroin use and overdose. Some might not be familiar with what an opioid is. Opioids are commonly used medications that relieve pain. Medications that fall within the opioid class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, etc. You can become addicted in as little as three days.

If you have a doctor prescribing you medication that is an opioid for pain after an accident or surgery, I would encourage you to be cautious and ask if there is another medication you could take for your pain. In conversations with Sheriff Funk he says that in Emery County we don’t necessarily have a heroin problem, we have a problem of abuse of prescription opioids.

img_5021If there is an overdose Naloxone or Narcan can save a life. It is a drug that basically wipes the opiates off the nerve receptors in the brain, thereby reviving basic functions of the body, breathing and heart beating. It is said to be safe to use on a 4 month old and older. If there is an overdose and it is not opioid related it will not help nor harm the individual. To learn more click on the link below.

UtahNaloxone.org
Continue reading Commissioners Report 10-4-16

Chaffetz Office Rural Update October 2016

Jason_Chaffetz

This is not an official statement from Representative Chaffetz. It is an update of things that he and his office are working on and want to make his constituents aware of.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in providing you with this update. The month of August was very busy as we were touring the district and holding meetings with many of you. September proved to be just as busy with Congress back in session. Here are a few highlights:

Meetings:

  • August 29: Congressman Chaffetz held a meeting with high-ranking officials from the Department of Energy (DOE) at the Moab Uranium Tailings Cleanup Project and urged the Department to fully fund the Project. It is very frustrating that Congress appropriates money to fully fund the project but instead the Department uses those funds to increase the Washington DC Headquarters budget by 90 percent. The Congressman is committed to correcting this behavior within DOE.
  • September 13: In light of the Congressman’s amendment to increase funds for Indian School Bus routes, the Congressman held a meeting with officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and San Juan County Commissioner, Rebecca Benally. Together, we urged BIA to live up to their commitment to properly fund these roads so the children can get to school. This issue remains one of our top priorities in any end of year spending package.

Continue reading Chaffetz Office Rural Update October 2016

Flye Canyon Fire Update

Wildfire Update – Fly Canyon Fire 

Updates will only be released as future significant events occur on the fire. This will be the Last Update. 

Fire Summary:  The Fly Canyon Fire sustained over 1¼ inches of precipitation in the past 2 days; this has extinguished most of the fire. It is estimated to be 2,866 acres. A helicopter will be reseeding affected areas, including Potters Pond Campground and steep hillsides within the watershed.  A falling team will also be removing hazard trees in the area.

Although it has been only marginally noticeable, the potential for fire activity still exists.

Due to the recent cooler weather and precipitation over this lightning-caused fire, fire behavior and activity has decreased considerably; however, this does not mean the fire is out.  It is expected that extended rain and snowfall will completely extinguish this fire.  Until that time, crews will continue to monitor the fire. Continue reading Flye Canyon Fire Update

Commissioners Report 9-20-16

September 20, 2016

Fairs and Festivals

Peach Days and Melon Days just finished up this last week and both were very enjoyable.

Continue reading Commissioners Report 9-20-16

Senator Lee & Hatch Press Release

us-senate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lee, Hatch Introduce the Utah National Monument Parity Act

WASHINGTON – Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Utah National Monument Parity Act, Tuesday, a bill that would extend the same Antiquities Act protections Wyoming now enjoys to Utah.

“New Yorkers would not appreciate it if Utahns came in and told them what they could and couldn’t build in Manhattan,” Sen. Lee said, “and Utahns don’t like it when out of state special interest groups tell us how to use our land either. Over 50 years ago the state of Wyoming was granted protections from Antiquities Act abuse in their state, and all Utahns are asking is for that same protection to be extended to their state,” Lee finished. Continue reading Senator Lee & Hatch Press Release

Commissioners Report September 6, 2016

September 6, 2016

ChaffetzStaffLast week I was invited to show Representative Chaffetz staff around our county. Once a year Jason Chaffetz takes his DC and Wasatch staff through his district to show them what they are fighting for. I met them at Black Dragon with Ray Petersen, Randy Johnson and Kim McFarlane. We also visited Buckhorn Wash and the Wedge and topped it all off at Fatty’s for a late lunch.

SolutionsSummitAlso, last week I was able to attend the Solutions Summit. Some of the key note speakers at the summit were Senator Lee, Governor Herbert, Vice President Candidate Mike Pence and Carly Fiorina. The Solutions Summit focuses on jobs, industry trends and educating for the workforce. Senator Lee mentioned that he has introduced a bill he calls the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act. The bill that expands higher education opportunities for low-income and middle-class students and families, by opening up the federal accreditation system to state-based alternatives. I look forward to learning more about this bill. Continue reading Commissioners Report September 6, 2016