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Front Page » February 15, 2011 » Opinion » Guest Column: District legislative update
Published 1,159 days ago

Guest Column: District legislative update


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By CHRISTINE WATKINS
State Representative District 69

Two years ago the legislature passed a law that suspended the driving license of underage drivers for certain offenses for a period 120 days or until the driver turned 21. I did not vote for this law because I believed the penalty was far too severe.

It is especially harsh for young people and their families in rural Utah. Driving is a way of life for those of us who live in rural Utah. SB 28, which proposes to modify the previous law, passed the Senate and will be heard soon in the House. SB 28 is a bill which would allow underage motorists to have their license reinstated by the court after two years if the driver is under 19 years, or after six months if the driver is between 19 and 21 years old. The offender must complete a screening and assessment program, comply with the terms of probation, and provide a sworn statement that he or she has not consumed alcohol during the suspension period.

I totally support this new bill and will speak in favor of it. The important message here is don't drink if you are underage, and, especially, don't drink and drive at any age because the penalties are very severe.

HB 98 will also be heard soon in the House. I filed this bill to allow school districts with an enrollment of 2,500 students or less the flexibility to use Capital Outlay funds for maintenance of buildings. It passed the House Education Committee and now moves to the floor of the House for its hearing.

We will soon hear our first Illegal Immigration bill; Rep. Sandstrom's bill passed out of committee and will move to the floor for debate.

We are halfway through the session and the rush to address filed bills will soon be on. The actual tax revenues will be released Feb. 22. Hopefully, we will be reinstating funds to programs rather than continue with the cuts. I do know that State Parks will not be closed. The department director will look carefully at each park to see where expenses can be cut without doing major harm to the park. I believe that especially the museum/historic parks should never be closed; they are too important in identifying who we are and where we came from as Utahns. I am positive that the director can figure out a way to keep the other parks open for our enjoyment.

We were kept on the floor last Thursday for an extra 30 minutes, which meant I missed all of the senior citizens from my legislative district who came to visit me. I am so sorry and will make arrangements to visit with seniors in each county after the session ends.

I appreciate all of your emails and letters. Questions or comments can be addressed to cwatkins@utah.gov.

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