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I want to update you on what is going on in the Legislature and our State with regard to COVID-19.

Over the past two weeks we've had two virtual special sessions and have met multiple times via computer to act in response to the COIVD-19 pandemic.  Here ar some of the efforts that are going on in our state:

Utah Leads Together 2.0

The governor’s coronavirus task force released an updated plan to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19. The plan lays out steps and benchmarks to open up portions of our economy. Read the full plan HERE.


Utah’s Health Together App

The state launched a smartphone app to help with virus contact tracing. The app is voluntary and the information is owned solely by the user. Read more HERE.


Utah Legislature Continues Special Sessions to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

The Utah State Legislature met for the second straight week to appropriate federal coronavirus relief funds as well as expand immunity to business owners from coronavirus lawsuits, require the governor to notify legislative leaders of upcoming emergency declarations twenty-four hours in advance, and allow bars to delay paying license renewal fees. There were also non COVID-19 items that passed including adding the sales tax back to rail fuel and establishing a scholarship for students with disabilities for educational services. See all the bills from both special sessions over the last two weeks:


Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Available

The Utah Department of Workforce Services announced that additional assistance is available for those who would not ordinarily qualify for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed or gig economy workers. More information about this program and other unemployment programs with links to apply are found here:


Utah Legislature Convenes Special Session to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

The Utah Legislature met to formally accept federal funds from the CARES Act as well as pass bills related to streamlining unemployment benefits, aligning tax dates with the federal government, making the upcoming primary election safer, extending workers compensation for first responders, providing immunity for healthcare workers operating outside of their licensure, expanding right-to-try of pharmaceuticals, and preparing our state’s economic response. A summary of bills with link to the full text is found here:


CHIP Premiums Waived and Disenrollment Suspended

The Utah Department of Health announced that they are going to waive CHIP premiums and stop disenrollment, except for out of state moves. This move will help keep children covered during the COVID-19 crisis and matches a move made previously by the department to prevent Medicaid disenrollments. More CHIP and Medicaid information is available here:


School Buildings Will Stay Closed Through School Year

Governor Herbert and State Superintendent Syd Dickson announced that public schools will continue with remote learning through the end of the school year. 


Increased Testing Capacity

This week the Utah Department of Health announced that testing capabilities for COVID-19 have increased dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. They are urging anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms (which now includes fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches and chills, or decreased sense of smell or taste) to be tested for COVID-19. More information about testing is here:


Below is an op-ed that I participated in that ran in the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend.  We are doing so many things right as a state.  We have a very high per-capita testing ratio.  Counties acted swiftly to implement measures that were appropriate for their situation.  We've kept the daily confirmed cases rate roughly constant rather than allowing it to grow out of control.

I know this has affected many of you directly.  Through illness or even death in your family, to lost jobs and difficult situations.  I know this is a hard time for many and I am working to help make sure the state's response is as effective as possible.

As part of that I am pushing to make sure that every dollar the state spends is spent wisely.  The pandemic shouldn't be a shield from transparency.  We need open (and in some cases accelerated) bidding processes.  We need to understand what the state and the public are getting for the money spent, especially given the needs in our community right now.  We need to listen to experts throughout this process.

Click here to see my interview on Inside Utah Politics.
It is an honor to serve our community.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do to better serve you.

Copyright © 2020 Representative Suzanne Harrison, All rights reserved.

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