As most are aware, this week was full of political “hay” as County Commissioners, the Governor, legislators and numerous other elected officials kicked into full campaign mode with Utah’s neighborhood caucuses being held this week.
In addition to local caucuses to determine party candidates, Utah also held the Presidential caucuses to determine the delegates for both the Republican and Democratic candidates. As expected, Ted Cruz handily won in Utah and will take all delegates from the state. On the Democratic side, Utahans were “feelin the Bern” where Bernie Sanders handily beat Hillary Clinton, taking nearly 80% of the Democratic vote. This too was expected, but the margins were much wider than anticipated by most.
In addition to the political front, this week the Governor also signed Utah’s HB346 and HB347 which dealt with the issues of Homelessness and Medicaid Expansion. With nearly $10 Million committed to homelessness and another $30M from the state and $70M from the Feds being appropriated for Utah’s Medicaid expansion effort for 2016, which extends coverage to 17,000 more individuals who find themselves chronically homeless, criminally involved or dealing with a substance abuse disorder. While not an expansive expansion of medicaid, this is a critical population for the state, and of major significance to counties as the folks targeted are clearly the JRI population and those who rely on county services for substance abuse and mental health needs.
These two bills signify a major county effort and “win” for counties from the 2016 Session, where there was a clear demonstration of effort toward the issues of JRI, homelessness and substance abuse and mental health treatment. While there is still much to do. This was a major step forward and our hats go off to Rep. Dunnigan and Rep. Gibson who put tireless hours in to these efforts.