Legislators discuss looming issues of Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana

ST. GEORGE — Local legislators met with constituents over breakfast to take questions on pending issues in the upcoming legislative session starting later this month.

Hosted by the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce, the “Issues Over Eggs” breakfast allowed members of the chamber and the public insights into the issues elected officials feel will be primary during the session.

Rep. Don Ipson, R-St. George, at the "Issues over eggs" Q-and-A breakfast concerning the upcoming 2016 session of the Utah Legislature, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Rep. Don Ipson, R-St. George, at the “Issues over eggs” Q-and-A breakfast concerning the upcoming 2016 session of the Utah Legislature, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Legislators in attendance were Reps. Don. Ipson, R-St. George; Brad Last, R-Hurricane; V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, and Jon Stanard, R-St. George. Among the main issues discussed were medicaid expansion, medical marijuana and the ongoing issue of funding education.

Medicaid expansion

Medicaid expansion is “probably the biggest issue looming this year,” Snow said.

“We’ve not been able to find a solution, a resolution on how that can be handled,” he said. “… You’re going to see that debated.”

The matter was discussed heavily during the 2015 legislative session, yet no bills were passed regarding the matter.

Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, at the "Issues over eggs" Q-and-A breakfast concerning the upcoming 2016 session of the Utah Legislature, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, at the “Issues over eggs” Q-and-A breakfast concerning the upcoming 2016 session of the Utah Legislature, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Currently, it is estimated that anywhere between 50,000-60,000 Utahns at or below 138 percent of the poverty line are caught stuck in a coverage gap created by the Affordable Care Act and the state’s Medicaid limitations.

“We need to provide the care to those people that are the most vulnerable,” Ipson said, yet also noted it was a matter of funding and how much of that funding Utah may ultimately be left with.

“You’ve got to have a way to pay for this thing,” Last said.

Lawmakers who opposed Medicaid legislation last year are still in the Legislature this year, Stanard said. He also said that, depending on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, issues surrounding the ACA and Medicaid expansion could change a great deal.

Rep.Brad Last, R-Hurricane, at the "Issues over eggs" Q-and-A breakfast concerning the upcoming 2016 session of the Utah Legislature, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Rep.Brad Last, R-Hurricane, at the “Issues over eggs” Q-and-A breakfast concerning the upcoming 2016 session of the Utah Legislature, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Medical marijuana

The legislators said they weren’t exactly sure which way they would go with proposed bills dealing with making medical marijuana legal in Utah. However, they expressed worry making the medicinal aspects legal could potentially lead to legal recreational use.

Currently two bills are proposed. One is from Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, while the other is proposed by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs. A difference between the two bills is that Madsen’s bill allows THC, the active ingredient of cannabis, to be used in medical cannabis and related products.

There are groups of people who push for medical cannabis with the ultimate goal of getting society comfortable with the idea of medical cannabis so they can ultimately push for recreational use, Last said.

“I have grave concern where it leads,” Stanard said. “It has plenty of negative side effects,” he said, speaking of marijuana in general.

Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, at the "Issues over eggs" Q-and-A breakfast concerning the upcoming 2016 session of the Utah Legislature, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, at the “Issues over eggs” Q-and-A breakfast concerning the upcoming 2016 session of the Utah Legislature, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Nobody likes to see people suffer, Ipson said and, “I think we need to do everything to make that process available.”

Education funding

“I think education is always on the forefront,” Snow said. “That’s both with respect to legislation and funding.”

One of the challenges is making sure funding keeps up with population growth, Snow said; adding, “our funding is not keeping up with the need,” he said.

With the funds the state extends to education, Ipson said, Utah schools do an incredible job.

Last year the Legislature approved $500 million in new spending for public education, Ipson said.

The 2016 session of the Utah Legislature begins Jan. 25 and concludes March 10.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

13 Comments

  • Terry January 14, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Medicaid yes, Medical Cannabis, Absolutely, it’s here anyway, the state can turn that would be Revenue into Money For Education! Wake the *~=# Up! Cannabis is All Around You Everywhere !
    PEOPLE WHO BENEFIT FROM IT ARE TAKING THERE MONEY OUTSIDE THE STATE!!!!!!! Hello Any OLD FART HOME???! Friends with MS and Other Ailments are Going to Nevada Arizona Colorado California ECT. Only Filling Those States Coffers, and in A lot of Cases Just Moving There, Especialy Colorado!! I spent The Winter There Last Year And Was Abel To, With The Help of TRAINED BUD TENDERS, GET OFF OF THE HIGHLY ADDICTIVE PAIN MEDS ALL THESE UTAH DOCTORS SHELL OUT!
    It’s a NO BRAINER, EVERY DAY UTAH LOSES $$$$$$$ . And We All Know How Greedy This State Is.
    GO WITH SENATOR MADSEN AND LEGALIZE CANNABIS. ITS A GOD GIVEN HERB MORMONS!!!!
    ALL YOU RICHIS SUNDAY GOERS, GET A REVELATION! Jeeeezzzz ??

    • 42214 January 14, 2016 at 8:25 am

      What’s with all the capital letters? You been smoking dope?

      • Terry January 14, 2016 at 4:32 pm

        we know you do

        • 42214 January 14, 2016 at 9:50 pm

          We know you do what?

          • .... January 15, 2016 at 1:35 am

            What ya doin 422 ?

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 14, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      well, mormons love their codeine and oxy. what can ya do?

      • Terry January 14, 2016 at 4:33 pm

        nothin, they own the State

  • .... January 14, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Heck yeah ! Legalize it and let’s partly on ! say nope to Jesus dope !

  • GrandmaB January 14, 2016 at 10:06 am

    There are no real negative side effects. Other, than with constant use, lethargy and laziness abound. Which is all reversed with a day or two of abstinence. Certainly, much better than alcohol. Stop lying to people about this plant. Save yourself some prison money and the constant abuse of users. The medical benefits way outweigh the negative, if there is any. This state seems to be big on natural remedies. So exercise your common sense.

    • Terry January 14, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Right On GrandmaB!! THUMBS UP!!!

  • ladybugavenger January 14, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Marijuana is not dope….yes to legalizing marijuana!!! Marijuana helps people,legalize it and get the people off those painkillers made in a lab!

    • .... January 15, 2016 at 1:34 am

      Say Nope To Jesus Dope !

  • .... January 15, 2016 at 6:26 am

    TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.