Speaker Hughes hosts conversation on homelessness ahead of session

Salt Lake City, Utah- (News4Utah) – A nationally recognized leader in treating addiction is praising Utah leaders for their approach to Operation Rio Grande.

The three phase process focuses on law enforcement, treatment and job training.

Speaker of the House Greg Hughes is a driving force behind it. He says there's more to come.

"It's very important to me in this upcoming session that we have lined up all the dollars, all the ducks, all the stake holders, the different jurisdictions together and that we are all on the same page," said Hughes, (R) Draper.

The speaker hosted a pre-session discussion with lawmakers, national experts and advocates to asses the plan and discuss the steps forward.

Dr. David Smith, a treatment expert and founder of the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinics in California has high praise for the local effort.

"The reason I'm here is to endorse positive responses. Second of all, to help understand why things have been so innovative here in Salt Lake City," said Smith.

Democratic State Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck says it's been a good step, but says the state passed up on an opportunity to help more people.

"I think we would have had less expensive care if we could have shared the risk with a broader population though the full Medicaid expansion," said Chavez-Houck, (D) Salt Lake City.

Hughes stands by the partial expansion approach.

"I think it's more sustainable and more predictable, so I don't regret the actions of the state," said Hughes.

Speaker Hughes also talked about how he's at odds with Attorney General Sean Reyes about the best path forward. He wants local municipalities to sue opioid manufacturers. He's not interested in a settlement.

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