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Report on District 69 freshman year

By CHRISTINE WATKINS
Representative from District 69

The 2009 Utah State Legislature ended shortly after 11 p.m. last Thursday evening. Wow, what a rush on the last day to get bills passed.

HB 96 passed at 9:30 p.m. This bill will allow individual charter schools one additional opportunity to join the Utah retirement system after they have opened their school. I was the sponsor of this bill and was very pleased it passed.

It was also exciting to speak in support of Senator Hinkins' SB66, renaming our stretch of Highway 6 as the Mike Dmitrich Highway.

I was also the co-sponsor of the Nuclear Energy Resolution; it passed and I received many emails from constituents who were supporting this resolution.

On the other hand it was heartbreaking to see the bill that would have given much needed funding to WETC not make it out of the Senate. The same thing happened to another bill that would have allowed San Juan County to build a larger jail to house inmates from all over the state.

SB 48, a bill that would have allowed teaching to be more of a hobby than a profession was killed on the House floor.

We also killed SB 199, the anti-PTA bill, which was a very controversial bill. I received many emails about that one.

SB 159, the Singapore Math Initiative Program, was also defeated. I have no objections to Singapore Math, but $500,000 for a very exclusive program seemed excessive with the current economic conditions. I spoke against this bill and was relieved when it died. When the economy turns around I will have no problems supporting this program. My years in education have seen the pendulum swing back and forth several times. I firmly believe that strong parent support, a good teacher, and work on the student's part can provide a solid educational background in math. At this time I would much rather see the money used to keep people employed.

I can't tell you how important it is to email or call me to express your ideas or concerns on issues. I need to know how people feel about various issues. A mining bill came to the floor that people in Moab and San Juan were concerned about. It took some research to discover that the bill was narrowly written for Kennecott Mining. Sometimes there are unintended collateral consequences to bills, and this is what San Juan citizens were worried about. They emailed all of the legislators while I worked on some amendments, and they made a very favorable impact on the legislators. Unfortunately, when the sponsor presented the bill he was more convincing than I was, arguing that the bill would not hurt those residents. My amendments failed and the bill passed. I will work with those constituents this year to see if I can draft a bill that will help them.

I believe I had a very successful freshman year on the hill. I was told as a freshman that we should just be quiet, observe, and learn. I did observe and learn, but I was not really good at being quiet. I made good friends on both sides of the aisle and look forward to returning next January. I start interim committees in May. I can also get bills going for the next session. If you have concerns or issues please contact me.

I am glad to be home in our wonderful part of the state. And I appreciate the opportunity to serve you.




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