Meeting Summary April 14, 2022

Utah State Democratic Progressive Caucus

7:00-8:30 p.m., April 14, 2022
via internet conference

Presiding and Conducting: Emily Olsen, Chair

  1. Approve Meeting Minutes from January 10, 2022 meeting
  2. Announcements
  3. Review of 2022 Legislative Session
    Emily maintained a bill list during the 2022 Legislative Session. She discussed some highlights:
    Healthcare — We would like a single-payer national healthcare system, but Utah has done much to expand Medicaid:
    HB 80 – Authorizes the Medicaid program to reimburse a provider for certain diabetes prevention services.
    HB 200 – Helps fund medical expenses for medically complex children when Medicaid coverage is exhausted, but Medicaid waiver bills for people with diabetes failed.
    HB 413 – Added mental health services to Medicaid for those who qualify.
    Covid-19 pandemic has helped illustrate the need for universal coverage, but its response in Utah has also undervalued health departments and municipalities, particularly regarding the requirement to wear masks, when such entities only seek to protect residents.
    Air Quality and the Environment — We’ve experienced a huge loss with the approval of the inland port in the past year, which has also succeeded in undermining the authority of the Salt Lake City mayor’s office. At the same time, State Congress has passed legislation to protect the Great Salt Lake’s watershed and wildlife habitat in and around the lake. Time will tell if folks are only doing lip service to a multi-faceted issue. The fact that we are in a 10+ year drought that is the worst on record seems to be necessitating the protection of bodies of water — except, of course, for Utah Lake, where they want to build islands and subdivisions. The high price of gas and the supply-chain challenges we are experiencing are encouraging Utah to explore alternative green energy that we can generate domestically.
    Housing — If I had more time, I would research the role played by international corporate investing into residential real estate on the skyrocketing values that are creating a massive barrier to entry for first-time home buyers right here in Utah. The government loves the tax revenue pouring in, but have you read HB 462, Utah Housing Affordability Amendments? The legislation is designed to aid working-class and middle-class folks to obtain affordable housing, but folks who opt in to this program get to be scrutinized by government agencies to the nth degree. It all seems like a big, red-taped work-around that expands government. I don’t think the legislation ended up passing anyway. Why can’t we limit corporate investors instead or we create a method to adjust housing prices to stay inline with average local incomes? And why can’t people get paid an adequate living wage?
    There are more areas I could talk about, but despite some of the setbacks we’ve been experiencing, I am amazed how much legislation is matching up to our Progressive Platform items, such as in criminal justice — providing a salary to inmates who perfom labor. We are also studying the benefits of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids. I am amazed that legislation to develop core curriculum on ethnic studies passed, when ridiculous attempts to pass anti-CRT motivated legislation failed.
    In the cacophony of ballot and voting bills, there was some helpful campaign reform legislation, such as the transparency in Lobbying and Disclosures Amendments (HB 91). Despite how ultra-conservative Utah is , there are a number of ways our state has been Progressive this year — but perhaps we should publicize such successes in fear of retribution? Bottom line: a lot of Progressive issues today are mainstream, kitchen-table issues.
  4. Platform statements of Democratic candidates
    All state-level Democratic candidates were sent a survey asking if they agreed with individual points on the Platform statement. Among those, candidates facing primaries will speak first. Other candidates will then speak as time permits. The following candidates were endorsed by the General Membership:

    Kael Weston – US Senate
    Nick Mitchell – US CD 2
    Darlene McDonald – US CD 4Jennifer Plumb – UT SD 9
    Nate Blouin- UT SD 13
    Stephanie Pitcher – UT SD 14
    Parker Bond – UT SD 19
    Joshua Hardy – UT HD 1
    Joel Briscoe – UT HD 24
    Sahara Hayes – UT HD 32
    Hope Goeckeritz – UT HD 37
    Dee Gray – UT HD 44
    Dallas Joseph Guymon – UT HD 71
    Adi Finsen – UT SB 2
    Sarah Reale – UT SB 5
    “Q” Quang Dang – UDP Chair

  5. Scheduling of next General Membership Meeting – No follow-up meeting was scheduled
  6. Adjournment