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Front Page » January 19, 2010 » Opinion » 2010 Legislative Session Preview
Published 1,653 days ago

2010 Legislative Session Preview


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By Rep. CHRISTINE WATKINS

The 2010 Legislative session will open Jan. 25. This session will be very challenging since state tax revenues are still down. I am sure you have been reading newspapers and watching television and have heard of the difficult task we have in balancing the state budget. Sub-appropriation committee meetings will be held Jan. 12 and 20 and then during the session. I am on the Natural Resources Sub-appropriation Committee and the Retirement Sub-appropriation Committee. You can go to the State Legislative Home page to read the agendas and listen to the meetings as they take place.

I have been asked to carry a few bills. The first one is called Firefighter Special Group License Plate Amendments. We passed a bill last year that will require all firefighters to pay $15 for the firefighter's license plate. There are many firefighters that donate all of their time, gas, and energy to learn how to fight fires and then give up work time to fight fires. One fire chief believes that paying $15 is an unnecessary burden, especially for our rural fire fighters.

The money that is raised from this fee will not benefit our rural firefighters and this bill proposes that only career firefighters (full-time) will have to pay this fee, exempting the volunteer fire fighters.

Another bill would put methane gas from abandoned coal mines into the renewable energy classification. We are still working on this bill and have had many agencies helping with language for this bill. The main purpose is to allow tax incentives to be used to help companies either use this gas or destroy it. Right now it can go into our atmosphere and it is 20 times worse than CO2 emissions.

H.B. 209 modifies the Code of Criminal Procedure and provides that the annual fee of $100 that registered sex offenders are currently required to pay to the Department of Corrections be changed so that the offender pays $50 to the Department of Corrections and $50 to the agency that registers the offender, which may be a local law enforcement entity or the Department of Corrections. This bill will help small rural law enforcement agencies recoup the expenses they incur when they register sex offenders.

I have a bill filed to help the Grand County School District with the financial problems that they have been dealing with. The wording is not in yet but will be soon.

H.C.R. 3 is a resolution designating the month of October-2010, as Italian-American Heritage Month in the state of Utah. It recognizes the many contributions made by Italian-Americans to the history and development of the state of Utah. I feel honored to carry this resolution for the Italian Americans in Utah. Carbon County has a rich history and future with many Italian-Americans. Their hard work and dedication to their families and state have not gone unnoticed. They are the sixth largest ethnic group in America and we are honored to have them in our communities.

H.B. 203 will repeal a sales and use tax exemption for certain machinery, equipment, or parts relating to mining. This bill has a large positive fiscal impact for the state. This tax exemption has been in place for two years and was voted in when times were very good. Now cities that have businesses that serve mining companies desperately need the tax money that this repeal bill would restore. The Legislature is looking at a number of tax exemptions that were given during good times. This bill is not to pick on mining or manufacturing, it is just to restore a much needed tax revenue to the state and to cities.

Of course, filing a bill is just first step of many and there are many ways a bill can be stopped.

I am looking forward to a challenging session. We have been told there are many more bills filed this year than last year. If you have a bill you are particularly interested in please let me know so I can follow it and vote the way that most of my constituents want me to. There are bills that I struggle with and I really need to hear from all of you. My email is cwatkins@ut.gov and my phone number is 435-817-7533. I will continue to write a weekly newspaper article and plan to hold community meetings this year. I will let you know when and where either by newspaper articles or on the radio.

The only thing that makes community meetings difficult is a big snow storm, so I hope you will understand if weather does not permit a visit. Highway 6 has really improved but driving it during a snowstorm is still dangerous and scary. The meetings will take place on Saturdays, and I hope to visit Bluff, Monticello, and Blanding, in San Juan County, Moab in Grand County, and Green River in Emery County, and my home town of Price, in Carbon County.

There are so many issues that are before us as legislators that I cannot begin to cover them all here. Please go to the utah.gov website and there you can find links to most everything that goes on during the legislative session.

If you plan to visit the State Capitol please email or call, I would to meet you, take you on a tour, or help you with your concerns. Thank you for allowing me to serve you.

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Web Poll  
April 25, 2011
Do you you think the national deficit that Congress has been struggling with can be better solved by increasing taxes or by cutting spending?
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2115 total votes

Opinion  
January 19, 2010
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