Utah Legislature passes Prop. 3 replacement, bill heads to Gov. Herbert for signature or veto

Posted at 12:01 PM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-11 16:12:55-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature has passed a bill to replace the voter-backed Proposition 3, sending it to Governor Gary Herbert for his signature or veto.

In a 22-7 vote on Monday morning, Senate Bill 96 was passed on concurrence calendar. That means the Senate agreed to accept changes made by the House of Representatives to the bill.

The vote was largely along party lines, with Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, joining Democrats in voting no.

The bill makes changes to an initiative passed by voters in November to expand Medicaid in Utah. Lawmakers insist that Prop. 3, and the sales tax hike that went with it, is not enough to cover everyone and expanding costs could hurt the state’s budget. SB96 includes enrollment caps, a work requirement, and seeks federal waivers.

The House included a fallback plan in case the Trump administration doesn’t grant those waivers, reverting to full Medicaid expansion.

“So the fallback is to give the people what they voted for, full Medicaid expansion,” Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, asked.

“Basically yes,” Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, replied.

SB 96 passed both the Utah House and Senate with veto-proof majorities. That makes it tough for a veto or a citizen referendum on the law.

“This is a dark day for democracy in Utah. State legislators turned their backs on voters and on families in need. This bill leaves billions of our tax dollars in Washington and cuts healthcare for tens-of-thousands of Utahns. While special interests and politicians celebrate the success of their backroom deal, Utah families will be up late tonight knowing they just lost the ability to afford lifesaving care,” Utah Decides Healthcare, which sponsored Prop. 3, said in a statement.

The Utah State Supreme Court is about take up a legal challenge to the legislature’s efforts to replace Prop. 2, which could affect the future of Prop. 3.