Carbon's state representatives highlight goals, objectives
Even though Carbon County was divided through reapportionment, Democrat Brad King was re-elected to the Utah House of Representatives by a considerable margin.
King's worries focus on the state's budget woes. Next month, the governor has called a special session of the Legislature to cut $80 to $100 million dollars out of the budget. King will watch how the cuts will affect southeastern Utah.
"Right now, there are a lot of proposals and ideas that are protected," noted King. "The budget is the biggest problem we will face in the regular session this year. As for the special session, that is another kind of problem."
King serves on six committees and knows how rapidly priorities can change. Presently, his standing assignments are on the business-labor and transportation committees. He has also been assigned to the public education appropriation committee.
King was elected to act as the House minority whip for the Democrats. The leadership position brings three more assignments - the audit, legislative management and executive appropriations committees.
"Since the Democratic Party lost seats in the House, the representation on those committees will probably change," he said.
King represents all of San Juan, parts of Grand, Wayne, Garfield and most of Emery County. But the most populous area he covers is Carbon County and King keeps an eye on issues that may involve the area.
"As far as seeing anything that specifically affects the area right now, the general session is still a little far away," indicated King. "However, it is always important to look for intended and particularly unintended consequences a bill or law might have on our part of the state. Right now, there are no big red flags showing."
One issue that has raised a banner in the past few months is the Wild and Scenic Rivers inventory being conducted by the United States Bureau of Land Management in the area.
"I need to explore the consequences of that more," commented King. "I need to examine what can be done on a state level to make sure that act doesn't affect us negatively."
The special session is really on his mind.
"A month ago, things looked better. But then the projections came and the economy is not rebounding like everyone thought it was," he said. "The actual figure for first quarter is a shortage of $22.3 million. They have extrapolated that to mean a $117 million dollar shortfall for next year."
One matter that will be examined at the session will be property tax revenue supports for water districts.
"I have requested more information on this so I can better understand it. But that may not be the area we want to cut, particularly for small towns," noted King. "It appears most of the money from that fund is used for water projects, particularly in rural areas."
In the last couple of years, King has been involved in budgets. He has realized budgets are complex and affect many people.
"It's really mind bending to deal with it," stated King
For the first time in years the county's representation in the Utah House is divided due to redistricting. Geographically and population wise, slightly more than one-third of the county is now in House District 67, represented by Darin Peterson, a Republican farmer-rancher from Nephi.
"I now represent an even more diverse area than I did before the change," pointed out Peterson during a phone interview with the Sun Advocate. "I am sure that people in Helper and Santaquin have some things in common, but there are a lot of differences, too."
Peterson's district encompasses the eastern part of Juab, northern Sanpete, southern Utah County and basically everything west of the Price city limits in Carbon.
Peterson presently serves on the natural resources, the political subdivisions and physical resources appropriations committees. The assignments could change before January.
"I have to admit I haven't spent a lot of time in Carbon County. But I do know some people from there and have been quite impressed," pointed out Peterson. "I have known Mike (Dmitrich) and Brad (King) for a number of years. They have always been honest, open and worked well with me. They know the value of the jobs they have."
Most of Peterson's constituents live in rural agricultural areas rather than industrial-agricultural combinations like Carbon County.
"With the way things are, I believe almost all the issues at the state capitol will be budget driven this year," stated. "I think that some of the situation with Initiative I that was on the ballot had a lot to do with that."
One concern Carbon residents have about what may go on at the Utah Capitol is how the state's financial situation might affect CEU, one of the largest employers in the county.
"I have to hand it to CEU," pointed out Peterson. "A couple of years ago, the school was in very poor shape financially, but the administration over there has dealt with it well and it seems to be handled now. But the thing that has really impressed me is ... CEU managed to get the situation rectified without passing too much of it onto the students."
The long running dispute between Carbon and Sanpete counties concerning the water in the mountains above Scofield is one issue that is volatile in many ways.
Peterson once represented only the people involved on only one side of the dispute. Now he represents entities and individuals from both sides of the issue.
"I see that as an issue between the counties and it really has little to do with the Legislature," indicated Peterson. "But I will say that it is a dispute that has been going on for a very long time. I have heard stories about it since I was a kid. I have had various people from Sanpete County ask me to help them with the situation. But I will be honest - I am a water user in Sanpete County. It's a difficult situation. "
Peterson feels he can represent his Carbon constituents well because he is part of the majority at the Legislature.
"It's important to realize that, in the House, the split is now a 54-2l," noted Peterson. "I am part of the 54. That's a large deficit for the other party to overcome in the legislature. It's good to have someone representing you that can have that influence."