Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2018 session is off to a great start and over the weekend we held our first Bills and Bagels town hall meeting at the Nebo School District. This event was well attended with great participation from the audience. Thank you to all those who attended. We will gather again in a few weeks and, as always, breakfast will be FREE thanks to Scott Barlow and RevereHealth.
This week I am again including my legislative survey. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey if you haven’t done so. I am a better representative when I hear from you and understand your concerns.
This session we are tackling many important issues. They are featured in this summary. I addressed suicide prevention in my weekly video here:
Suicides are on the rise nationwide, and our state is no exception. The Utah State Legislature has made addressing suicide a priority for years, and we continue to strive to make resources available in every community across the state.
An individual can live for days without food and water, a few minutes without oxygen but almost no time without hope. At the Legislature, we are aiming to bring attention to our friends, families and neighbors, young and old, who are struggling with depression or anxiety that there are people who will stand with you and fight for you.
Over the past seven years, the Legislature has worked on over 15 bills addressing suicide prevention. Suicide prevention training has been required for behavioral health professionals and some school staff, and suicide prevention strategies have been implemented in schools. The Legislature has appropriated funds for three new statewide employees working to help prevent suicide and has passed legislation to study issues surrounding suicide and the implementation of a mental health crisis hotline.
The state has been highly successful with its SafeUT app. This app and other crisis services have enabled over 65,000 individuals in Utah to seek help in times of crisis over the past 18 months.
The state also recently assembled a Teen Suicide Prevention Task Force comprised of stakeholders from business, education, local churches and healthcare, led by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Representative Steve Eliason. The task force has been assigned to bring a suicide prevention plan to the Legislature by February of this year. Spanish Fork City has asked to participate in this task force.
During the 2018 General Session, the Legislature will be considering a number of bills that build on those passed over recent years, including H.B. 41 Mental Health Crisis Line Amendments which creates 24/7 state-wide crisis line staffed by specially trained first responders for mental and behavioral health for anyone in need of assistance to ensure that crisis calls never go unanswered, and H.B. 42 Medicaid Waiver for Mental Health Crisis Services which seeks a Medicaid waiver for certain mental health crisis resources, including intervention by a mobile crisis outreach team.
The Legislature will continue to work to ensure that those battling hopelessness don’t have to do it alone.
Operation Rio Grande Success Story
Operation Rio Grande (ORG) is making our community safer, and is offering individuals a second chance to turn their lives around. The House recognized three men during floor time on Feb. 1 – Brandon Jenkins, Mikhail Kotlov, and Cedric Willis – who are currently participating in ORG’s specialty drug court program.
These men have been in the program since it launched in September of 2017 and have almost completed their treatment. All three are leaders at their residential treatment facilities, pursuing employment, and serve as role models and mentors to new participants joining the program. They are all now preparing to transition to independent, sober living and have made tremendous progress on their journey to self-sufficiency.
The specialty drug court program provides professional clothing items for participants to assist as they search for a job and get back on their feet. Representatives donated items during the majority caucus meeting to be used in this program. If you would like to contribute, visit operationriogrande.utah.gov to learn how.
Blood Testing Amendments
You may remember the University of Utah Hospital nurse, Alex Wubbels, who was arrested last year when she refused to allow an officer to obtain a blood sample from an unconscious patient without a warrant. The Utah House passed a bill, HB 43 Blood Testing Amendments, to help avoid the overly-aggressive behavior manifest in this incident from happening again. The proposed legislation clarifies that an officer must obtain a warrant to draw blood from a person unless they receive verbal or written consent from said person. The bill passed the House 72-0 and is now being considered by the Senate.
Stay Connected this Year!
The Utah House of Representatives offers access to live and previous coverage of House Floor proceedings and committee hearings from the legislative website. You can view the current session, search the archive of past sessions, track bills, read proposed legislation and more at le.utah.gov.
Thank you for the privilege of representing House District 66. I look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions during the legislative session, please feel free to contact me any time. I can be reached on my cell phone at (801) 210-1495. If for any reason you are unable to contact me during the legislative session, my intern Seth Gillespie can be reached at (385) 441-0587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Utah House of Representatives
State House District 66