For over a year there has been a healthy debate and divide over the future of medical marijuana in Utah. But Governor Gary Herbert and several key players on the proposition reached a compromise. There will be a special session of the Utah Legislature following the election in November to discuss a new “shared vision” on medical marijuana.
Herbert, with legislators, and opposing groups joined together at the Capitol to announce the special session just a few days ago. What does this mean for the November 6th election? Proposition 2 remains on the ballot and cannot be amended before Election Day. So a yes or no vote for medical marijuana is for the proposition as it currently stands.
It is still a divisive issue in Utah, both sides often reaching embittered responses to the other, but many at the Capitol suggested that regardless of the results on November 6th the policies agreed to as sections of the compromise should ultimately be passed by the Legislature in the special session. The session will be held regardless of Prop. 2 passing or not.
This item on the upcoming ballot is for a Medicaid expansion throughout Utah. Medicaid is a government program that provides medical insurance to groups of low-income people and those with disabilities. The Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare) allowed for expansion of Medicaid to cover all individuals earning incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level.
It was ruled in 2012 by the Federal Government that funding could not be withheld from states that refused the expansion of the program in their state. According to the state website as of March 2018, 18 states had chosen not to expand Medicaid. In the 2018 legislative session in Utah, Governor Herbert signed an alternative version of Medicaid expansion. This alternative would give approximately 70,000 additional people coverage, as opposed to the approximately 150,000 that would gain coverage under the ACA expansion. The alternative for Utah includes a work, volunteer, or educational requirement and needs special approval from the federal government before it can become effective.
What Proposition 3 will do if passed is it would require the state government to provide Medicaid to people under the age of 65, and with incomes 138% of the poverty line. Since the federal government would provide 90% of the funds for the expansion in 2020 and on, the State of Utah would need to use revenue to cover the remaining 10%. The proposition would increase sales tax from 4.70% to 4.85%.
On all ballot items voters are encouraged to research and determine which vote best suits themselves, the community, and the state best in their view.