Chief Sponsor: Jennifer Dailey-Provost

Senate Sponsor: Todd D. Weiler


8     General Description:
9          This bill creates a disability ombudsman program.
10     Highlighted Provisions:
11          This bill:
12          ▸     defines terms;
13          ▸     requires the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (division) to appoint a
14     disability ombudsman;
15          ▸     describes the powers and duties of the disability ombudsman;
16          ▸     requires the disability ombudsman to keep certain records confidential;
17          ▸     provides that the disability ombudsman is only required to testify in court regarding
18     confidential records under certain circumstances; and
19          ▸     requires the division to make administrative rules regarding certain duties of the
20     disability ombudsman.
21     Money Appropriated in this Bill:
22          This bill appropriates in fiscal year 2023:
23          ▸     to Department of Human Services -- Division of Services for People with
24     Disabilities -- Disability Ombudsman Program, as an ongoing appropriation:
25               •     from General Fund, $143,000.
26     Other Special Clauses:
27          None

28     Utah Code Sections Affected:
29     ENACTS:
30          62A-5-501, Utah Code Annotated 1953
31          62A-5-502, Utah Code Annotated 1953
32          62A-5-503, Utah Code Annotated 1953
33          62A-5-504, Utah Code Annotated 1953
34          62A-5-505, Utah Code Annotated 1953

36     Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
37          Section 1. Section 62A-5-501 is enacted to read:
Part 5. Disability Ombudsman Program

39          62A-5-501. Definitions.
40          As used in this part:
41          (1) "Complainant" means a person who initiates a complaint.
42          (2) "Complaint" means a complaint initiated with the ombudsman identifying a person
43     who has violated the rights and privileges of an individual with a disability.
44          (3) "Ombudsman" means the ombudsman appointed in Section 62A-5-502.
45          (4) "Rights and privileges of an individual with a disability" means the rights and
46     privileges of an individual with a disability described in Subsections 62A-5b-103(1) through
47     (3).
48          Section 2. Section 62A-5-502 is enacted to read:
49          62A-5-502. Disability ombudsman -- Purpose -- Appointment -- Qualifications --
50     Staff.
51          (1) There is created within the division the position of disability ombudsman for the
52     purpose of promoting, advocating, and ensuring the rights and privileges of an individual with
53     a disability are upheld.
54          (2) The director shall appoint an ombudsman who has:
55          (a) recognized executive and administrative capacity; and
56          (b) experience in laws and policies regarding individuals with a disability.
57          (3) The ombudsman may hire staff as necessary to carry out the duties of the
58     ombudsman under this part.

59          Section 3. Section 62A-5-503 is enacted to read:
60          62A-5-503. Powers and duties of ombudsman.
61          The ombudsman shall:
62          (1) develop and maintain expertise in laws and policies governing the rights and
63     privileges of an individual with a disability;
64          (2) provide training and information to private citizens, civic groups, governmental
65     entities, and other interested parties across the state regarding:
66          (a) the role and duties of the ombudsman;
67          (b) the rights and privileges of an individual with a disability; and
68          (c) services available in the state to an individual with a disability;
69          (3) develop a website to provide the information described in Subsection (2) in a form
70     that is easily accessible;
71          (4) receive, process, and investigate complaints in accordance with this part;
72          (5) review periodically the procedures of state entities that serve individuals with a
73     disability;
74          (6) cooperate and coordinate with governmental entities and other organizations in the
75     community in exercising the duties under this section, including the long-term care
76     ombudsman program, created in Section 62A-3-203, and the child protection ombudsman,
77     appointed under Section 62A-4a-208, when there is overlap between the responsibilities of the
78     ombudsman and the long-term care ombudsman program or the child protection ombudsman;
79          (7) as appropriate, make recommendations to the division regarding rules to be made in
80     accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, that the
81     ombudsman considers necessary to carry out the ombudsman's duties under this part;
82          (8) submit annually, by July 1, to the Health and Human Services Interim Committee, a
83     report describing:
84          (a) the work of the ombudsman; and
85          (b) any recommendations for statutory changes to improve the effectiveness of the
86     ombudsman in performing the duties under this section; and
87          (9) perform other duties required by law.
88          Section 4. Section 62A-5-504 is enacted to read:
89          62A-5-504. Investigation of complaints -- Procedures -- Rulemaking.

90          (1) Except as provided in Subsection (3), the ombudsman shall, upon receipt of a
91     complaint, investigate the complaint.
92          (2) An ombudsman's investigation of a complaint may include:
93          (a) a referral to a governmental entity or other services;
94          (b) the collection of facts, information, or documentation;
95          (c) holding an investigatory hearing; or
96          (d) an inspection of the premises of the person named in the complaint.
97          (3) (a) The ombudsman may decline to investigate a complaint.
98          (b) If the ombudsman declines to investigate a complaint, the ombudsman shall notify
99     the complainant and the division of the declination.
100          (4) The division shall make rules, in accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah
101     Administrative Rulemaking Act, that govern the ombudsman's process for:
102          (a) receiving and processing complaints; and
103          (b) conducting an investigation in accordance with this section.
104          Section 5. Section 62A-5-505 is enacted to read:
105          62A-5-505. Confidentiality of materials relating to complaints or investigations --
106     Rulemaking.
107          (1) The division shall establish procedures by rule made in accordance with Title 63G,
108     Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, to ensure that a record maintained by the
109     ombudsman is disclosed only at the discretion of and under the authority of the ombudsman.
110          (2) The identity of a complainant or a party named in the complaint may not be
111     disclosed by the ombudsman unless:
112          (a) the complainant or a legal representative of the complainant consents to the
113     disclosure;
114          (b) disclosure is ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction; or
115          (c) the disclosure is approved by the ombudsman and is made, as part of an
116     investigation involving the complainant, to an agency or entity in the community that:
117          (i) has statutory responsibility for the complainant, over the action alleged in the
118     complaint, or another party named in the complaint;
119          (ii) is able to assist the ombudsman to achieve resolution of the complaint; or
120          (iii) is able to provide expertise that would benefit the complainant.

121          (3) Neither the ombudsman nor the ombudsman's designee may be required to testify in
122     court with respect to confidential matters, except as the court finds necessary to enforce this
123     part.
124          Section 6. Appropriation.
125          The following sums of money are appropriated for the fiscal year beginning July 1,
126     2022, and ending June 30, 2023. These are additions to amounts previously appropriated for
127     fiscal year 2023. Under the terms and conditions of Title 63J, Chapter 1, Budgetary Procedures
128     Act, the Legislature appropriates the following sums of money from the funds or accounts
129     indicated for the use and support of the government of the state of Utah.
130     ITEM 1
131          To Department of Human Services -- Division of Services for Disabilities
132               From General Fund

133               Schedule of Programs:
134                    Disability Ombudsman Program          $143,000
135          The Legislature intends that the appropriations under this item be used for the disability
136     ombudsman program described in Title 62A, Chapter 5, Part 5, Disability Ombudsman
137     Program.