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Senate and House Democrats tout “pro-family” bills

State Senator Kathleen Riebe at the State Capitol Monday as Democratic lawmakers previewed a number of "pro-family" bills for the 2020 Legislative Session. (PHOTO: John Wojcik, KSL Newsradio)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — State Democratic lawmakers are touting their “pro-family” bills in anticipation of the 2020 legislative session.

A group of senators and representatives gathered at the Utah state capitol building Monday morning to preview ten separate bills, which will be introduced in January.

The bills range from maternal health to contraception access expansion.

“Did you know that Utah is one of only six states without family planning coverage extended beyond 100% of the federal poverty level?” asked Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City. “This means that many individuals are  forced to decide between groceries, gas and contraceptives.”

His bill would expand contraceptive access under Medicaid in order to help reduce unplanned pregnancies.

Another piece of legislation is aimed at infertility insurance.

“Utah, out of thirty-one states surveyed, has the highest use of infertility treatment, but it is not covered by insurance so it can be really expensive,” said Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Midvale.

He says 10% to 20% of couples in Utah are unable to have a child because of infertility. In vitro fertilization (IVF) can cost anywhere from $11,000 to $36,000.

Stoddard hopes his bill can gather support from both sides of the political aisle.

“I’m sure that everyone knows someone who struggles with infertility and would like to see them be able to have help [to] produce a family,” he said.

Both he and other Democratic lawmakers will have to hope for bi-partisan support from the Republican majority in order for their bills to pass.

The assembled Democrats highlighted their bills have a passage rate very similar to Republicans, despite the fact they have less representation in the House and Senate.

Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, is connected to three different bills that were previewed on Monday.

Her first bill is aimed at maternal health and would “expand Medicaid coverage for pregnant women up to 185% of the federal poverty level during pregnancy.”

Another bill is a workforce development incentives amendment that would “allow the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to consider childcare benefits for employees as corporate recruitment criteria when considering incentives to companies.”

Her final bill is a comprehensive childcare tax credit, which would serve as “an incentive program for businesses to receive a tax deduction for the cost of reserving spots at local high-quality childcare centers.”

State Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, is championing a sex education bill with the goal of preventing sexually transmitted diseases and the use of pornography.

The first day of the general session is Monday, January 27.