Utah Land Ownership

I was glad to see last week that the legislature is studying the feasibility of transferring federal lands to state ownership. This is an important study and I look forward to its findings. To get an idea of how hard federal land ownership has been on us, I recommend this month's issue of Imprimis. At 67%, Utah has the second highest percentage of land owned by Washington. That includes huge oil and coal deposits that could be an economic boon to Utah and provide a strong funding source for education. I would encourage you to visit the American Lands Council web site to find out what is being done to take back our lands. I also encourage each of you to consider getting a free subscription to Imprimis. Its a great read every month. 

Finally, I really liked Minnesota's move to dump unneeded laws and would like to see Utah do something similar. I have passed a number of bills removing unnecessary restrictions and would like to see that trend continue.

Health Care In Utah

This past week saw Governor Herbert and the legislature discussing possible Medicaid expansion in Utah. This is a difficult path to tread. The federal government has a long history of holding out a lot of cash and then tying strings to it over time. Nowhere is this more in evidence than Medicaid. As the federal government continues to pull back the subsidy on Medicaid it makes no similar move on it mandates. This leave Utah in the difficult position of allocating ever increasing amounts of state money to a program that is grossly inefficient. As Governor Herbert continues his negotiations with the federal government and with the legislature, I hope he takes a good look at what is being proposed in Indiana. If this plan is approved I believe it will have the best long term results.

Health care is something I have worked on since my first term in the legislature. In my freshman term, I passed a bill allowing state employees the option of getting high deductible/health savings account plans. I also published an article touting the benefits of free market based health care.

In 2010, I passed a bill making county jail inmates more responsible for their own healthcare. This small bit of consumerism has saved the taxpayers of lot of money in inmate medical expenses.

In 2011 I passed a bill improving the state employee high deductible/health savings account program.

And, in 2012 I was the House sponsor of an interstate compact calling for the participating states to opt out of federal control of health care.

I also served as a member of the health care reform task force and was one of the authors if Utah's health care exchange.

Getting health care right can bring big benefits to all of Utah. I believe that if the state had more flexibility we could create a free market for health care that all would benefit from.

School Is Nearly Out

I hope the students in your life had a great year in school. This may seem early but I wanted to call your attention to an option that may be a great opportunity for your high school student next year: the statewide online education program. I had the opportunity to be the House Sponsor for the bill that created this program in 2011. This fall your student has the chance to take up to 3 classes on line. There is a huge variety to choose from. So whether your student is looking for something not offered in their high school or simply wants to take a class at a different time, this program could be a great fit. I was proud to be a part of the creation of this program. This editorial I wrote gives some of my thoughts about how this program can provide opportunities for student across the state. I'd love to hear your experiences with the online education program. Feel free to contact me. 

Utah Managing Its Own Lands Is Good For Education

In some very good but very under-reported news, Governor Herbert has successfully negotiated a land swap with the Federal Government. Under this arrangement the Federal Government will take control of some recreational areas and Utah will get control of some land with great potential for energy development. This swap has the potential of adding $1.7 billion to the Permanent School Fund. Income from this fund is largely sent directly to school community councils who can use it to address the specific needs of their own schools.

This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg. 66% of Utah is still owned by the Federal Government and this story makes it clear that Utah owning and managing Utah's land has great benefit for the people of our state.

Several Indictments Pending

Many of you may have been following the House Investigation into John Swallow that ended shortly after he resigned from office. This was, of course, not the end of the story. Two county attorneys, Sim Gill from Salt Lake County and Troy Rawlings from Davis County have continued the investigation. Today an article was published in Utah Policy revealing that the county attorneys are preparing to indict a number of people on several charges. Details about the indictments will be coming later this week. You should also note that the former state House member mentioned in the article is me.

I will send out more as I get updates.