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Front Page » March 3, 2009 » Opinion » Guest column: Two weeks left, still lot to complete
Published 2,097 days ago

Guest column: Two weeks left, still lot to complete


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By CHRISTINE WATKINS
Representative from District 69

We now have two weeks left in the legislature.

Friday, after floor time our "bill board" was wiped clean and the rules committee sifted through all of the bills and prioritized which bills will come out to the board first. My resolution asking the federal government for help with the Navajo's obtaining information to get and track child support payments was heard Friday in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It was passed out of committee favorably and placed on the consent calendar, which means it does not have to be debated on the senate floor. After a vote on the senate floor the next step will be for Governor Huntsman to sign it, and then off to Washington D.C. it goes. I am very happy that this resolution has made very positive progress.

In education, Representative Carol Spackman Moss's bill HB 150, dealing with the state board of education member election process, was killed in committee. I was sorry to learn that; I believed it was a good bill and was badly needed.

Representative Moss's bill, HB 244, is on the Senate second reading calendar. This bill provides that it is a class A misdemeanor to enter onto school property in order to evade law enforcement.

HB 213, by Representative Christine Johnson, defines gifts and prohibits public officials from receiving certain gift; it was heard in the house ethics committee and was passed out favorably.

HB 345, by Representative Brad Dee, which prohibits certain elected government officials from acting as a lobbyist for one year after leaving office, was passed on the house floor and was sent to the Senate rules committee.

There are many bills that have passed both houses, and many more working their way through, all of which are of interest to citizens. If you have access to a computer you can go to the Utah Legislative page and look up bills by sponsor or title. It is really easy to do and you can also click on committee links and listen to the committees discussions as they meet.

HB 187, sponsored by Representative Ben Ferry, has caused a lot of contention. It is a bill that tries to further define the rights of property owners who live next to a river or stream and the rights of fishermen and others who recreate on waterways that pass by private homes. This one has been a real hot button and is still being worked on. I spoke against and voted against it in committee because there was so much misinformation and bad feelings from entities that felt like their voices had not been heard in regards to this issue. I will wait to see if it comes to the floor again after the sifting process.

I've heard that Meal on Wheels and the Aging Programs have been protected from the deep cuts. I was very happy to hear that since I am not on those committees and couldn't speak for my constituents, except through other legislators.

I attended the fire caucus luncheon and had a great visit with Price Fire Chief, Paul Bedont of the Price Fire Department and Leonard Miller. I am now a proud new member of the fire caucus and look forward to supporting the volunteer firemen in Carbon County and other rural communities.

I am also an active member of the rural caucus. There are many issues that come up that have more to do with rural vs. urban issues than Democratic or Republican issues.

I am also a member of the higher education caucus in order to support the College of Eastern Utah.

I have heard from many constituents, but urge you to keep in touch with me by email at cwatkins@utah.gov or by phone at 435-650-1969. If I don't answer I am probably in a meeting, but feel free to leave a message with your phone number so I can call you back.

Stay tuned; we still have two busy weeks before the session ends.

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March 3, 2009
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