Legislative report by Christine Watkins
Tuesday we will receive the new tax revenue update. The Minority Leadership Team will meet with Governor Herbert that morning. It will be interesting to get the governor's take on the numbers and start the "real" budgeting process.
I will not support H.B. 485 which eliminates tenure at Utah colleges and universities. I agree that without tenure the State of Utah will struggle attracting and retaining top notch professors. In any profession there is the occasional employee who is less than adequate; I don't believe that a whole system needs to be changed for an occasional problem. I did not vote for H.B. 220, it will require Utah teachers to teach that the United States is not a democracy but a Republic. I trust that the curriculum is requiring educators to teach the correct wording and description, I do not believe the legislature should micro-manage public education curriculum. I was amazed at how much precious time we spent debating this bill.
I am fighting to get H.B. 98 through to the Senate. H.B. 98 would allow any school district with an enrollment less than 2,500 students to use Capital Outlay funding (bricks and mortar) to pay custodial salaries, utility bills, and general maintenance expenses. It passed committee but Rep. Mike Noel told me he would hold it up until his H. B. 400 was passed. The big problem is that H.B. 400 has no language and we are more than half way through the session. Rep. Noel has issues with Grand County and wanted his bill that would address those issues passed before he would let my bill out. Numerous entities have spoken to him and I believe his concerns have been at least partially addressed. I also addressed the concerns that other representatives had with H.B. 98 and will uncircle the bill and hopefully get it passed.
I work very hard to push rural issues forward, whether they be in education, farming, ranching, business or natural resources. I am the House Sponsor for S. B. 31, the bill which expanded the B.E.A.R. Program which helps rural businesses that are already established be contacted by economic growth personnel and educated about business resources that may help their businesses expand and grow. The bill allows funding to reach out to other small rural counties besides Carbon and Emery. This bill has passed both houses and is on its way to the governor.
Hang on, things will really start moving at the State Capitol these last three weeks.
To contact Watkins, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.