The 2024 Utah Legislative Session is Complete

As of March 1st, the Utah Legislature concluded its annual 45-day Legislative Session. During this short time, they passed a record 591 bills, including 156 on Friday March 1st alone, and set the 2025 budget at $29 billion.

We aren't going to lie, it was a hard legislative session for American Heart Association priorities. 

But let's start with the good news:

Successfully Defending Medicaid!
H.B. 463 Medicaid Funding Amendments (Rep. Brammer) was introduced during week 3 of the Session and dictated the tone for public health advocates for the remaining four weeks of session. This was a complex bill meant to create the idea that Medicaid is facing a financial crisis and was a direct attack on healthcare access. If it had passed passed, the bill would have resulted in the loss of critical Medicaid programs for Utahns, frozen enrollment, and hamstrung the Medicaid Division and Department of Health and Human Services in providing the best services to the 400,000 Utahns on Medicaid (number is fluctuating with the Unwinding process). Public health advocates mobilized quickly and effectively to stop this bill for good the final week of the session. Special thanks to all of the volunteers, Utah Public Health Association, Utah Academy of Family Physicians, Association for Utah Community Health, Voices for Utah Children, Utah Health Policy Project, for coming 
together so quickly and effectively.

Now for the bad news:

Expanding access to no cost school meals

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Clancy would have created a trust fund to pay for a universal no-cost meal program in Utah, eliminate the reduced-price category of school lunches and expand students into no-cost meals, and address school meal debt did not pass. Early in the legislative session it became clear it would not have the votes it needed. The bill was amended to focus on what we hoped would be an easier lift of addressing the reduced-price category through a Request for Appropriations. Ultimately even the amended bill did not get the necessary support from legislators, however, American Heart Association and our partners at Utah PTA and Utahns Against Hunger have built a strong coalition around the effort and were able to make great progress in year one of the campaign. Rep. Clancy is intent on seeing this through so we will bring the effort back next year.

Nicotine and Tobacco-Incomplete and harmful bill passes

S.B. 61 Electronic Cigarette Amendments (Sen. Plumb) is a bill that we opposed on the grounds that it exempted menthol in the a tobacco/electronic cigarette flavors ban. 64% of youth that vape report using mint or menthol e-cigarette flavors, so we know leaving those products on the market will continue to attract and exploit youth, people of color, and the LGBTQ community, which is an unacceptable outcome.

Some legislative sessions are harder than others but that doesn't mean we give up. We will be back in 2025 and we will continue our work to build a healthier Utah. 

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