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Front Page » February 24, 2004 » Opinion » A Day on Capitol Hill
Published 3,709 days ago

A Day on Capitol Hill


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

A week ago, while on my way to our company's annual meeting in San Diego I spend a day visiting with our senators and representatives at the legislature.

I thought I wore a lot of hats.

I spent time visiting with Senator Mike Dmitrich and Representatives Brad King, Darin Peterson and Bradley Johnson representing districts 67, 69 and 70. In addition, I also met Olene Walker, Utah's first woman Governor.

I have to admit that this was only my second trip to Utah's capital and it was an eye opening day. First of all it was crowded. Hundreds of children from throughout Utah paraded through the Senate chambers and halls. They learned how a bill becomes law and how the state is led. Besides the endless lines of lobbyists and constituents Friday was also the day the Utah Realtors visited the hill. Members of the Navajo tribe were in attendance, along with hundreds of members of the PTA groups.

Budgeting still appears to be the biggest issue in the legislature, although the day I was there the business was centered around transportation issues and the hot topic was education. I listened to testimony from the Navajo tribe on how the "No Child Left Behind" is going to be devastating to the tribe. Other bills around education included a resolution to transfer credits among higher education institutions.

Besides all their work on the bills, hearings, readings and committee meetings our legislators had a steady stream of visitors. They were calm and gracious as they handled one group at a time and ran back and forth between their offices, the halls, the senate or house floors to cast their votes. There were times that it all resembled a three-ringed circus and every act was played out perfectly.

Every geographical area is vastly different. I had a nice visit with Bradley Johnson from Emery County and the issues that surround Utah's farmers and ranchers are monumental this year. Most deal with water funding and renewable energy production. The legislators are concerned about keeping things green, through development of adequate water for agriculture, and investing in renewable energy resources on farms.

In addition to issues that seem to be so important around water, education, safety and money, there were many bills being discussed that seem to be the product of special interest groups. Included these were making cross burning a felony, giving financial incentives to couples willing to undergo counseling before marrying, and discontinuing special license plates.

I was impressed with the process and amazed at how effectively our leaders represent us. Agree or disagree with their decisions I believe it is important that we provide them direction, give them our opinions and feedback and work with them as they decide the next laws of our state.


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