Education and healthcare issues to look for in the 2020 legislative session

Written by Derek Monson

January 31, 2020

There are two policy areas in which reforms could most directly impact families and businesses in the 2020 legislative session: education and healthcare. And these issues tend to be heavily legislated areas of state public policy. Case in point: As of this article, more than one out of every five pieces of publicly available 2020 legislation (70 out of 337) has to do with education or healthcare.

So what are some of the important 2020 legislative debates in education and healthcare?


  • Special-needs options: Last year, a special-needs tax credit scholarship bill passed the state Senate that would have given students with certain disabilities and special needs the opportunity to choose an education that works for them, a la carte style. Students could use the scholarship to purchase a range of educational services rather than just private school tuition: textbooks, special-needs therapies, private tutoring and more. 2020 legislation on this issue has yet to become public, but if it does, will it gain greater support and momentum, or stall due to philosophical or political objections?

  • Public K-12 school governance: In 2019, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that the state’s law allowing partisan or nonpartisan candidates for the state school board was constitutional, and that law will take effect for the first time in 2020 state school board races. Then, late in 2019, Governor Herbert recommended to the Legislature that it pass a constitutional amendment allowing future governors to appoint the state school board. Given the competing political momentum behind the state Supreme Court decision and the governor’s recommendation, what will happen on this issue in 2020?


  • Prescription drug costs: The cost of prescription drugs has risen, dramatically in some cases, in recent years. This trend, combined with the confusing web of market actors who influence the out-of-pocket cost of prescription drugs – pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors and health insurers – has led to an interest in reform of state prescription drug policies. Who will be newly regulated under proposed legislation? What have other states done that has proven to reduce the cost of prescription drugs? Will Utah’s proposed policy reforms be effective at generating savings for patients or making the cost of prescriptions easier to understand?

These are only a few of the important education and healthcare questions that lawmakers will debate during the 2020 legislative session. And certainly, other important policy questions on these issues will arise that cannot be foreseen. If properly addressed, however, the answers to these questions could mean an improved education for special-needs students, an effectively governed public school system, and more affordable prescription drugs in our state. We encourage Utahns to become informed about these and other important policy issues and engage the legislative process by constructively sharing your perspective with your representative.

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