|Rep. Kay McIff answers questions from county residents. Olive Anderson from Green River asks about water.|
Rep. Kay McIff the representative for Emery County held a public information session to review the just past legislative session. Rep. McIff fielded questions from the audience.
He said the emails about animal cruelty clogged his mailbox and he had a hard time getting email from his constituents. The legislature waded through 796 bills this session. One bill passed last session dealing with the incorporation of towns had to be fixed this session. In the meantime a couple of new towns sprung into existence said Rep. McIff. It was fixed by determining it would have to pass with a majority of voters voting for it and the majority of value.
One constituent asked about immigration. McIff said the state only has limited jurisdiction to the state's borders when it comes to immigration. If immigrants violate the state laws, they can be arrested. You can't punish an immigrant solely on their status as an immigrant. Solutions need to be found that best protect the people of Utah. If the immigrants don't have a driving card then it is really hard to require evidence of insurance. One issue the legislature did work out was if a child goes to three years of high school they can qualify for in-state tuition rates. "It's a question of having a well educated populace," said McIff.
"There is a lot of feeling and emotion on this subject. We need to secure our borders. We need to know who is here and register them. We need to have a sensible approach to authorizing workers but not opening borders. The religious leaders also weighed in on the issue," said McIff. The bill passed on immigration will not take affect until July 2009, which will give the federal government time to get their act together said McIff.
McIff discussed the water bills saying most Utah water is overappropriated. The issue of cities losing water rights due to none use was brought to the forefront with Roosevelt. This developed a push to ensure some kind of protection for cities and towns and projected growth. Public water suppliers can look ahead for 40 years to provide for use.
McIff said in doing this the legislature doesn't want communities to hoard water to the extent they disadvantage the farming community. He said they are working on allowing the cities to lease water which could solve some of the problems. McIff predicted the biggest battles in the west in the next 40 years will be over water; with the population growing as it is a lot more water will need to be developed.
|Rep. Kay McIff with Bill Dellos of Orangeville.|
Education didn't get as much money as the legislators originally intended. Revenues were $350 million less than projected in December 2007. Educators statewide will receive $1,700. In the last days of the legislature they approved a 2 percent increase in the weighted pupil unit. In the last days of the legislature $25 million surfaced and that money was placed in education with $5 million directed to signing bonuses of $1,000. The other $20 million went into performance bonuses and will be under the jurisdiction of the local school districts.
The animal cruelty bill passed will make a first offense cruelty to a dog or cat, companion animal, a first degree felony.
In transportation the focus was the I-15 corridor in Utah County. This project will be funded but not to the exclusion of other projects around the state.
The state is putting $7.5 million into smaller school districts to be used for capital improvements. Emery School district will get $100,000 from this fund.
McIff said he helped with the mineral lease distributions and Emery County will receive $5.5 million this year. "It's great for Carbon, Duchesne and Emery counties," said McIff.
McIff talked about the establishment of the Office of Coal Mine Safety within the Utah Labor Commission. The appropriation this year is $280,000. McIff said he is a member of the Utah Coal Mine Safety Commission. They listened to a lot of testimony and reports on coal mine safety. It was determined it wasn't in the best interest to duplicate the Mine Safety and Health Administration, but to offer a supplement; another pair of ears and eyes for the coal miners. The College of Eastern Utah will play an important role in the future of coal mine safety.
McIff closed his meeting by saying he appreciates representing Emery County and wants to be responsive and responsible to the constituents in the county.