Report From The Legislature
Daylight saving time will survive. There were strong opinions for and against. In the end, a driving consideration was the negative impact on the business world that interacts on a national scale. If we were to change, we would be out of step with almost everyone except Arizona. It is problematic in the world of commerce.
After considerable debate, the house rejected a bill that would have required the severance tax on oil and gas to be deposited in a trust fund whose principle could not be invaded without a three-fourths vote of both houses. I think most legislatures are supportive of a trust fund being established for future generations. At present, there is some legitimate concern that until the economy stabilizes and our rainy-day funds are restored, we need to be conservative in over committing the modest increase in revenue, which we hope this year will bring.
The judiciary committee, which I chair, sent to the house floor a bill that would allow a sex-offender who no longer poses any threat to apply to the court to remove his name from a registry that is designed to warn the public. The sponsor told of a young couple in Cache Valley that became involved when he was 19 and she was underage. He was charged and ended up on the registry. They subsequently married and now have multiple children. Because his name is on the registry, he can't be alone with his own children. It is the kind of circumstance that breeds hopelessness and is not helpful to anyone. I think the legislature will approve an approach that allows a way back for persons in this circumstance, without compromising public safety.
I also serve on the public education committee and the higher education appropriation committee. Both are important to citizens in Emery, Sanpete, and Sevier counties. I have spent a fair amount of time the last few weeks in an effort to enhance funding for the necessary existing small schools in rural Utah.
Last week we were successful in achieving distribution of 1.2 million dollars to these schools. It is vitally needed and will be greatly appreciated. My ongoing effort seeks an expanded appropriation for next year. The end objective is to come closer to the legal requirement of "reasonably equal educational opportunities regardless of the place of residence." While this is of special significance to those of us who live in rural Utah, the goal should be universally shared.
I sense an increasing awareness that we will have to aggressively address predator control if we are to save our diminishing mule deer heard. Senator Hinkins is sponsoring a measure to increase the big game license fee by $5 with funds directed toward predator control. No one is thrilled with the increase, but it may come down to a choice of being able to hunt for $35, or hunt with a chance of success, at $40. If we can get a handle on the problem, the investment will be well spent. If we can't, life in rural Utah will be forever changed.