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Utah Legislature 2011: It’s a Wrap

Utah’s legislative session ended on March 10, with several bills making the news and provoking the public to respond.

On a bright note, the 2011 legislative session did mark the passing of three bills that will improve investor protection in Utah, all of which were sponsored by Sen. Ben McAdams.

These bills will help toughen penalties against con artists who commit “affinity” fraud (i.e., target those in their own religious or social circles to gain their trust) and protect people who report fraud early by protecting them against retribution from an employer.

Legislators also restored all proposed cuts to Medicaid, and thanks to sponsor Sen. Dan Liljenquist, passed legislation to help reform some of the payment methods in the program to reduce fraud and waste.

Rep. Jim Dunnigan’s bill regarding Utah’s health insurance exchange passed, and will improve consumer transparency and information. Legislation by Sen. Karen Morgan to create an Alzheimer’s Task Force was approved, as were resolutions by Rep. Marie Poulson and Sen. Pat Jones to improve patient labeling and raise financial literacy and awareness.

Notable were bills that did not pass as well, such as legislation introduced by Rep. Carl Wimmer to make low-income programs in utilities voluntary (a change that would destroy the program by adding huge administrative costs according to the utilities themselves). A bill by Chris Herrod to eliminate the requirement for child booster seats failed in committee, and the food tax bill by Sen. Stuart Adams failed to pass as well.

However, a bill by Sen. Curt Bramble to ban electronic signatures in citizen petition drives, create additional administrative hurdles, and increase the number of signatures needed to pass an initiative succeeded. Legislation by Sen. Stuart Adams to hold hospitals accountable for hiring doctors with histories of abuse or incompetence also passed, as did the infamous legislation by Rep. John Dougall to gut Utah’s government records act, a bill that has drawn nationwide attention.

Bills that had AARP Utah’s support but failed to pass included legislation to expand the preferred drug list (PDL) in Medicaid sponsored by Sen. Allen Christensen, and a bill to reign in payday lending abuses by Rep. Brad Daw.

These are the priority bills that AARP Utah tracked, but we followed many more, and literally hundreds of other bills were considered by the legislature.

Find a full list of all legislation considered and passed in 2011 online.

This site also provides valuable information about interim legislative hearings, budget information, and contact information for state and federal legislators and officials.