That’s all, folks.
With the 2016 Legislative Session coming to an end, let’s take a breath and recognize the good that came from it. A couple of days ago, I outlined the appropriation victories we saw: over $30 million in appropriations that will directly impact county government. Yesterday, I highlighted a number of bills that directly benefited our various affiliate groups. In short, with the exception of some small items, we’ve gotten about everything we asked for in 2016—and that’s with a state budget that came in $50 million short. (I don’t mean to downplay the losses, but in the legislative process where compromise is everything, it is nearly impossible to get everything you want.)
There is plenty of credit to go around for as successful a session as this one. Our UAC staff would like to thank our great county officials (both elected and appointed) who participated in the process. Your efforts were not in vain. We’d particularly like to thank the affiliate legislative liaisons who have served throughout the legislative session as a major resource in sharing messages between us and you, answering technical questions, and attending individual meetings with legislators when the need arose.
We also need to thank our good legislators. They provide a valuable service to the citizens of our counties and state and too often get beat up in the press and by the uninformed population (you don’t know what that’s like, do you?). While we appreciate all of our 104 state legislators, let me take a moment to recognize a dozen or so legislators who carried a lot of water for the counties this year.
- Representative Dunnigan worked tirelessly to see the passage of Medicaid expansion. His work will greatly help our efforts in justice reinvestment and with some of our most at-risk citizens.
- True to his word, Representative Hutchings continued to work for funding for the justice reinvestment initiative. We appreciate having such a dedicated partner on this issue.
- Representative McCay and Senator Thatcher did something extraordinary this session: they got law enforcement, the media, and the ACLU to reach consensus on police body-worn cameras. Representative McCay also worked with the counties for over a year to find a compromise to the property tax new growth formula that ensured stability to the taxing entities and fairness to taxpayers.
- Senator Christenson, Representative Ray, Representative Sanpei, and Representative Chavez-Houck clearly recognized the importance of funding county health and human services. They were great advocates throughout the appropriations process.
- The leadership of Senator Vickers led to legislation that will improve the state’s wildland fire suppression efforts. His efforts over the past several years finally led to the inclusion of cities at the table.
- County clerks couldn’t have asked for a better sponsor to shepherd three of their initiatives than Senator Dayton. She expertly carried their initiatives through the legislative process.
- Representative Noel continues the important work of championing the jail contracting program. His efforts year after year have resulted in millions of dollars for the counties.
- Representative Cunningham bravely tackled a number of thorny retirement issues this legislative session. His efforts will not be forgotten.
- Likewise, kudos to Representative Gibson for his work on the homelessness issue.
- A number of other legislators sponsored bills proposed by county government. Thanks to Representatives Anderson, Dee, Draxler, Fawson, Peterson, Sandall, and Stanard as well as Senators Mayne, Millner, Okerlund, and Weiler.
Look for more detailed analysis on the legislative session in the weeks to come. Starting next week, we’ll return to our regular Friday Facts update. Until then, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any member of the UAC legislative staff.
Arie Van De Graaff