by Bill Tibbitts
Yesterday morning members of the Coalition of Religious Communities went to the Utah Capitol to find out what is happening on key poverty issues. Here is what we learned:
1) A $100 million bond for affordable housing cannot be appropriated unless it is connected to a bill. Representative Joel Briscoe has filed a bill for this purpose. If you want to thank him for leading efforts to address Utah's housing crisis you can get his contacts information on his legislative web page.
2) Representative Quinn's bill repealing the state portion of the sales tax on food may be assigned to a committee toward the end of next week. House tax bills are currently being held by leadership until they can be considered together. You can read an endorsement if Rep. Quinn's bill from the Park City's newspaper, The Park Record, here. If you want to thank Rep. Quinn for leading on this issue you can reach him here.
3) Representative Brian King is now taking the lead on efforts to raise the minimum wage. Representative Lynn Hemingway is out of state dealing with a family emergency and so his bills raising the minimum wage, HB 117 and HB 118, have not been able to get a hearing in the Business and Labor Committee, where they have been assigned. House Minority Leader Brian King has now agreed to take the lead on these bills and so it is very likely they will get a hearing next week. HB 117 would raise the minimum wage to 10.25 per hour this year and $12.00 per hour in 2022. HB 118 would increase the minimum wage for tipped employees from $2.13 per hour to $3.25 per hour. This would be the first time the Utah's minimum wage for tipped employees has been increased since 1991. Both bills will be heard by the House Business and Labor Committee. If you support one of both of these bills tell the committee members: Representative James A. Dunnigan (Chair), Representative Mark K. Roberts (Vice Chair), Representative Susan Duckworth, Representative Gage Froerer, Representative Timothy D. Hawkes, Representative John Knotwell, Representative Michael K. McKell, Representative Jeremy Peterson, Representative Val K. Potter, Representative Mike Schultz, Representative Jon E. Standard, Representative Curt R, Webb, Representative Mark A. Wheatley, Representative Brad R. Wilson.
4) The text of the House Medicaid expansion bill is still not available. Representative Robert Spendlove is working on a bill to expand Medicaid to 60,000 people under the poverty level. The House Speaker, Representative Greg Hughes, has indicated he wants this bill to pass this year but the bill is still not fully written. Hopefully the full text will be available to the public soon.
CORC will be returning to the Capitol on the morning of Thursday, February 8, to get updates on these issues. We need volunteers to help us talk to as many legislators as possible. We will be meeting outside the House Chamber at 10:45 AM and leaving at 12:15 PM A group will be carpooling to the Capitol at 10:30 AM. Cal me if you would like more details at 801-364-7765 ex 107.
Food Tax Cut, Housing Bonds, the Minimum Wage and Medicaid Expansion: What is happening on poverty issues at the Utah Legislature?
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