Legal action against opioid drug makers
Yesterday, I joined District Attorney Sim Gill, Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, and families affected by the opioid crisis to announce Salt Lake County’s intent to pursue legal action against drug manufacturers. Salt Lake County is experiencing a public health crisis because of the widespread addictive drug use – most of if starting with legally obtained medication prescribed by a doctor. Many victims then turn to heroin because of the high costs of pain pills. Meanwhile, drug companies profit to the tune of $11 billion in 2014 alone.
We are joining the legal fight to get the drug companies’ attention. The terrible effect opioid pain pills is having on Utah families is unacceptable and tragic. At the news conference, we heard from Dennis and Celeste Cecchini whose son Tennyson died in their arms on the bathroom floor of their home. His addiction started with pain medication he was prescribed ten years prior due to a hockey injury. We also heard from whose daughter and step-daughter both struggle with their addiction and are now receiving treatment.
I am grateful to these families for sharing their stories. Now is the time for action, so there will be less heartbreaking stories to tell.
Dennis Cecchini shares his story at the news conference.
A Utah solution for health care
A long-sought action from the federal government to let Utah offer Medicaid health insurance to the poor, the homeless and those battling drug addiction has come through. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services granted the state’s request for a waiver to provide $100 million in Medicaid funding for thousands of poor Utahns to receive health care.
In 2016, the Utah Legislature passed a bill that would give coverage to several groups, including the chronically homeless, low-income families with children and individuals addicted to drugs who are in the criminal justice system—approximately 10,000 Utahns.
The Medicaid waiver will immediately provide money to expand the number of residential treatment beds for individuals arrested through Operation Rio Grande. A total of 240 new treatment beds will come online by early next year. Treatment as an alternative to jail will ease jail overcrowding and offer a way out for people trapped in a revolving door of crime, arrest, court, and release back onto the streets. It will also help reduce victims of crime and lessen the burden on first responders and hospital emergency rooms.
My responsibility as mayor is to help keep the public safe and allocate precious tax dollars on those programs and services that deliver results. Our partnership with Governor Herbert, members of the Utah legislature, Salt Lake City and others has produced a critical win for everyone I represent in Salt Lake County. I’m proud of our ability to make progress on challenges we face with homelessness, opioid addiction and access to health care.
Read the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune articles about the announcement.
2018 Salt Lake County budget proposal
Yesterday, I presented my 2018 Salt Lake County budget proposal to the Salt Lake County Council. The $1.3 net billion budget is structurally balanced with no tax increase.
The budget decisions we make –both large and small—make a real difference in the lives of the people we serve. This conservative budget is accountable for every dollar and we are determined to achieve maximum results. To make budget decisions, we come together in a bipartisan fashion, finding common ground and accomplishing goals.
You can find more information on the proposed 2018 county budget here.
Major part of Parley’s bike trail now open for riders
Today I joined local mayors and community members, including fourth graders from Rosecrest Elementary School, to open a major segment of the Parley’s protected bike trail. Parley’s, which travels east to west, is an important part of Salt Lake County’s work to build out a fully safe and connected bicycle transportation network. As the regional government for our thriving metro area, Salt Lake County is taking a big-picture view. We look regionally for safer and more diverse transportation options that will serve the community for years to come. Part of that transportation plan is safe, connected bike routes that cover the entire valley –north, south, east and west. Numerous studies show that if you build it, they will come. The biggest deterrent to cycling is the worry about being safe. Properly engineered and built bikeways and routes that are safe and convenient will boost commuter cycling dramatically—and contribute to cleaner air.
There is just one last segment of Parley’s that needs to be build out, connecting it to the Jordan River Parkway trail. Until then, there’s still many safe bike trails available to enjoy with friends and family throughout Salt Lake County.
Kids lined up to send off bike riders trying out the new trail
Tell us what you most care about in parks and recreation
Salt Lake Parks and Recreation has a survey up right now, designed to hear from the community about what you like and don’t like about the services we provide. Salt Lake County runs over 100 parks across the valley, including several large destination, regional parks. They also manage more than 20 recreation centers, hundreds of sports and fitness programs, and several miles of trails and open space. Taking the survey gives residents the chance to consider all of parks and recreation’s different programs and facilities, and help us to prioritize.
Hearing from the public is the best way to determine how to best deliver services. I hope you’ll take the time to tell us what you think.
Take the Survey
Salt Lake County Bluffdale Regional Park