Our team will be putting together a summary of passed bills that affect counties interests. We will distribute that later this month. If anyone has specific questions before then please let me know.
I want to follow up on three specific points:
1. As you may know, there was an appropriation of $6 million in ongoing funding made to the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health for JRI recovery services support. This funding will become available in July but it will be distributed in a different way from what has been done in past. It will be available only through an application process and grants will be provided based on the merit of the application. If you did not see the bill that put this into law it is SB 261, 1st Substitute. The new section is “Local plan program funding.”
This appropriation has created a new funding process which puts local governments in the lead on decision making. The process will require counties to collaborate to request and expend funds in ways that meet local needs. It will also require that treatment services meet the needs of the criminal justice system. We are hopeful that this arrangement will lead to improvements in the outcomes of the JRI.
I think it is important to say that in my discussions with legislators at the end of the session, with regard to the JRI funding, I heard more than once that they DO NOT want funding going to counties that do not support JRI and where there is not effective collaboration to put it into effect. The point is that grant funding should be focused on programming that is supported locally and which has local buy-in. I think this states a new set of expectations for funding. UAC staff will be glad to assist all of you to coordinate your work locally and to interface with the DSAMH on this funding process.
2. On the 44th day of the Session, I learned that the funding that had been appropriated to the CCJJ for improvement projects and which had been used for screening persons admitted to county jails for SUD and MH disorders was eliminated. This came as a surprise to me and to a number of other people. It had apparently been part of a longer term plan and the funds were reallocated by agreement between the legislature and the governor’s office. This is, of course, not unusual, but I was not expecting it to occur. As a result of this change, the screening program will be unfunded after June 30.
I know this causes some problems for some counties where the screenings had been underway. There is also a lot of concern among CCJJ members about the loss of this funding. The loss of these resources, however, has to be balanced against the increase in resources to provide broader recovery supports. It is also true that anyone interested in continuing those screenings may apply for grant funding to do so. Any existing program would be well placed to apply for these funds early in the process. As we move forward after the session, I would be interested to know who will be making such applications. Again, if this screening process is a priority for your county, we will be glad to support your efforts to continue it through grant funding.
3. Finally, the Juvenile Justice Amendments legislation passed at the end of the Session. This bill was substantially narrowed from its original version. In addition, the delay in effective date for parts of the legislation lessens the immediate impacts. Nevertheless, I recognize that there are concerns about its impacts on juvenile court practice. Please take a look at and discuss the final version of the bill within your county and office. As we move forward toward implementation of the legislation, we should compile concerns and recommendations so that we are prepared to move forward to recommend improvements during this year and the next legislative session. UAC staff will be working during the interim to develop those recommendations. We will need your help to understand the complexities.
Utah Association of Counties