Highlights from the Legislature this week | SummitDaily.com

Highlights from the Legislature this week

– Budget reform: The Joint Budget Committee voted to spend $20 million on repairs at schools, as required by a lawsuit settlement the state previously signed, and $1.6 million on gifted and talented programs. The money came from the $4 billion in tax refunds that voters gave the state in the November election through Referendum C.- Education: Joint Budget Committee chairman Tom Plant said the panel voted to give school districts an extra $23 million for their special education budgets this year, a 20 percent increase over the current budget. That money will reimburse school districts for money they have already spent.- Jobs/economy: The House Appropriations Committee approved two consumer protection bills. One measure (House Bill 1181) would establish regulatory requirements for mortgage brokers and require mortgage brokers to register with the Division of Real Estate. The other (House Bill 1280) would protect consumers from fraudulent credit counseling practices.- Health/environment: The House approved on a 37-28 vote and sent to the Senate a plan that would allow pharmacists to bypass doctors and prescribe emergency contraception. The measure (House Bill 1212) was passed over the strong objections of Republicans who said it sets a dangerous precedent by allowing pharmacists make medical decisions.- Water: The Senate approved and sent to the House a measure (Senate Bill 37) that puts some limits on the water set aside for whitewater parks. As amended, future whitewater parks would only be able to demand water during a drought if there’s enough water to give them 85 percent of the water they’re entitled to under their water right. The aim is to make sure the cities that run the parks don’t ask for more water than they need. Recreational water rights are still new and, so far, no municipality has had to take water away from other users.

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