Gov. Herbert divided on voter initiatives
Governor Herbert has come out strongly opposing voter initiatives that will legalize medical marijuana use and the expansion of Medicaid for low-income Utahns. Additionally, during his monthly press conference, the Governor endorsed Senate candidate Mitt Romney and US Representative John Curtis who were selected during the GOP state convention, but face primary election opponents who will appear on the ballot as a result of collecting signatures.
The Governor’s opposition to medical marijuana includes issues relating to which medical providers will be authorized to prescribe the medical marijuana. The initiative expands the authorization from medical doctors to include physician assistants and nurse practitioners, optometrists and podiatrists. He also points out that federal law still lists marijuana as an illegal substance. The Governor calls for more research about the benefits of medical marijuana and how to appropriately use it.
The Governor sees Medicaid expansion as unnecessary and expensive. His concern is rising costs that are not addressed in the bill that will become a “budget buster.” The organization Utah Decides Healthcare, pushing the initiative, is proposing a sales tax on nonfood items from 4.7% to 4.85%. Medicaid expansion is projected to add an additional 150,000 people to the program.
Chris Balzano contributed to this report