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House OKs bill to pave way for more toll roads; amendment to strip powers of School Board

House OKs bill to pave way for more toll roads; amendment to strip powers of School Board

(Laura Seitz, KSL, File)



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SALT LAKE CITY — A proposed constitutional amendment would strip the powers of the Utah State Board of Education and lawmakers are paving the way for more toll roads in the state with legislation allowing electronic monitoring and extending the ability to charge fees on existing roads.

Here's the latest round-up on what's happening during this Legislative session:

Utah lawmakers hold bill creating duty to report opioid mishandling

Legislators on Wednesday held a bill that would make it a crime to not report fraudulent handling of opioids at a health care facility, saying there were significant concerns over how it could be interpreted.

But despite voting unanimously to hold it, the House Health and Human Services Committee still appeared willing to hear HB446 again on a quick turnaround after some of its language was updated.

"I would much rather try to fix this in committee with the level of discussion that we've had here today," said Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, chairman of the committee. "This is not a minor amendment that we can do on the floor of the House."

House passes bill that paves the way for more toll roads

Utah lawmakers are paving the way for more toll roads in the state with legislation allowing electronic monitoring and extending the ability to charge fees on existing roads.

SB71, sponsored by Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, passed the House 49-21 Wednesday. A change made in the House to study how best to collect tolls from out-of-state and rental car drivers still had to be accepted by the Senate.

Niederhauser said it will be at least two years before Utahns see electronically monitored toll roads in the state, including in Little Cottonwood Canyon, where construction on an additional lane is set to start.

Senate passes bill to improve K-3 reading

The Utah Senate on Wednesday passed SB194, which raises the bar for reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, said SB194 would set the state standard of children reading on or above grade level by the end of grade 3 at 60 percent. "I say we shouldn't be happy until we get to 90 percent," Millner said during earlier floor debate.

The Senate voted 27-0 to approve the bill on its third reading. The amended bill moves to the House for further consideration.

Proposed amendment would strip powers of State School Board

A proposed constitutional amendment would strip the powers of the Utah State Board of Education.

Under SJR16, "the general control and supervision" of the state's public education system would be vested in the state superintendent of public instruction, who would be selected by the governor.

The resolution is an attempt to address the governance of the State School Board, which is "a catastrophe," the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, said Wednesday.

The joint resolution would have to pass each legislative house by a two-thirds margin to be placed on a statewide ballot. Constitutional amendments require the majority approval of voters. SJR16 is before the Senate Education Committee and scheduled for hearing on Friday

Committee OKs bill funding improvements, patrols on Jordan River

Lawmakers are turning their attention to a stretch of the Jordan River, proposing to spend $1 million for added police patrols and improvements such as lighting and boat ramps.

The measure, HB216, by Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, proposes a half-million dollars in one-time funding and another half-million dollars in ongoing funding to make improvements along the river from state Route 201 to about 4500 South.

The bill passed unanimously in the House and in the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee, and it now moves onto the full Senate.

Senate approves $5M in tax credits for movie postproduction

A bill providing tax credits valued at $5 million annually to companies that stay in Utah to complete postproduction work on movies squeaked through the Senate Wednesday.

The sponsor of SB185, Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, said filming a movie is a "flash in the pan" compared to what happens after the shoot, including film editing, sound mixing, visual effects and animation.

Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, was among the senators voting against the bill that passed 15-10 and now goes to the House. Fiillmore questioned what the state was getting for the incentive.

Contributing: Ben Lockhart, Dennis Romboy, Lisa Riley Roche, Marjorie Cortez, Amy Joi O'Donoghue

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