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Front Page » February 7, 2012 » Opinion » Guest column: Inside look at second week of legislature
Published 996 days ago

Guest column: Inside look at second week of legislature


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By CHRISTINE WATKINS
Representative District 69

The first law of the 2012 is Representative Marie Poulson's (D-HD46) HB 21. This bill will create a system for emergency responders to access emergency-contact information.

At the interim Committee Hearing for HB 21, the Cottonwood Heights Assistant Chief of Police described a situation where police responded to a car accident, and the driver involved was elderly and so shaken he couldn't answer questions. It took several hours for the police to find the name and contact information for the man's wife. Other first responders have described situations where victims have lived for several hours after accidents, but because they were unable to speak, their loved ones were unable to join them in their final moments. This bill will create a database of emergency contact information with the DMV and any Utahn will have the option to provide that information if they wish. This information will be accessible by the police and emergency responders. This law will provide the option when people apply for a new driver's license or renew an old one.

HB 263 will provide unemployment benefits to the spouses of active military personnel. Utah is only one of 10 states which do not do it already.

HB 65 creates a pilot program to place counselors in high schools that will specialize in helping students with applications, scholarships and financial aid to post-secondary programs. It has passed committee resoundingly and awaits debate on the house floor.

One bill that is particularly troubling is 1st Sub. S. B. 15. This bill in its original form would have increased off-highway vehicles (ATV's and snowmobiles) registration fees to help fund badly needed snowmobile trail grooming. Rep. Brad Dee substituted the bill and included the Aero Bureau, a bureau that is in charge of rescue helicopters. This Aero Bureau also needs money and they attached an additional fee that would help pay for the helicopter rescue of stranded and injured people in remote areas. It caught everyone off guard, it did pass, but I know there is going to be a lot of debate on the floor about the issue of one or two organizations footing the bill to rescue injured people.

I would really appreciate hearing from ATV and snowmobile owners about this issue. cwatkins@le.utah.org

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