Legislature Conducts First Virtual Session to Discuss COVID-19 Pandemic

The first virtual meeting of the Utah State Legislature was conducted when the House of Representatives and Senate called themselves into the Third Special Session of the 63rd Legislature on April 16, 2020. The Special Session was conducted to discuss policy concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

Representative Jefferson Moss stressed, “we are in the middle of a crisis, not just the pandemic crisis, but we are also dealing with an economic crisis.” The pandemic has had an impact on the revenue that comes into the state, and Moss affirmed the “budget that we came out with in March is not going to be the budget that we end up with. We know it will be smaller, but we don’t know how much.”

HJR 301, Joint Resolution Urging Fiscal Responsibility, sends the message of the “inevitable decline in revenue at the State level.” Moss, the House sponsor of the joint resolution, explained this is to set expectations, it does not take active action. HJR 301 asks state agencies, boards, institutions, and local education to restrict expenditures, and plan for a FY2021 budget that is equal to or less than current budgets.

HJR 301 passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate.  The resolution makes agencies aware that budgets are going to be changed, and to prepare agencies for any cuts that need to be made.

The next Special Session is scheduled for Thursday, April 23, 2020. UPEA is actively involved by monitoring, tracking, and discussing policies that impact public employees. UPEA representatives are available to discuss member concerns and will also talk to HR on their behalf.

During the General Session of the legislature earlier this year, UPEA members stepped up to the task of contacting their legislators to ensure public employee compensation and benefits were taken seriously and prioritized. Your efforts were an important part in achieving UPEA’s goals.

Representative Melissa Ballard is sponsoring a resolution recognizing the hard work and dedication of public employees through the recent crisis. Utah’s public employees have demonstrated their dedication to the State and its citizens during these unprecedented times, and it is important for legislators to remember this as they navigate uncharted territories regarding the FY2021 budget.