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Despite House Opposition, Healthy Utah Bill Has Support

GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
Utah Democrats say Healthy Utah isn't dead yet.

On Wednesday, Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes announced that he is stopping the advancement of the Healthy Utah bill. Hughes’ announcement came hours after Gov. Gary Herbert said he felt optimistic about Healthy Utah, which would provide healthcare coverage to 60,000 to 70,000 Utahns.

The Senate passed the bill in a vote of 21 - 8 on Wednesday. It was then sent to the House Rules Committee, where it was given a favorable recommendation. However, Hughes insisted that there aren’t enough votes among House Republicans to advance it further.

Media Coordinator Elizabeth Roberts, from the Utah House Democratic Caucus, said she had anticipated some opposition from Hughes.

“I think we were expecting a little hesitancy, but I don’t think we were expecting the staunch digging-in of his heels that speaker Hughes has since exhibited,” Roberts said. “The speaker has the right to do a lot of things that people are unaware of and that includes holding bills.”

Herbert said he’s committed to working with the House of Representative to come to an agreement on the bill. Roberts adds that this will be accomplished through bipartisan cooperation.

“Our goal is to work with members of the GOP House Caucus who do want Healthy Utah,” she said. “Speaker Hughes has made several statements saying that there’s not enough votes in the House, and we don’t necessarily believe that to be true. We think that there needs to be some sort of polling of the actual caucus members, because with the twelve Democratic votes—as well as the people who do support Healthy Utah—we’re looking at potentially having enough to not only pass Healthy Utah, but to get it to the governor to be signed into law.”

Herbert said he will attempt to negotiate with the House, but will consider all his options if necessary. For now, the future of Healthy Utah remains unclear.