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Last week of legislature could create surprises

State Representative District 69

We are in the final week of the 2012 Session. If history has taught us anything, it's that we cannot predict what is going to happen in the final week of the Utah State Legislature. There are still plenty of bills that do not have public language yet, but might be worked-lifted from the Rules Committee - and passed within a matter of a single day (remember HB 477 last year?) Our standing committees have wrapped up their work, and our bills have been prioritized for the remainder of the session. It is looking good for all of my bills to be passed. I worked hard to have bills completed early on in the session, and I believe that my endeavors will pay off. I will continue to work to strengthen families for the sake of children. I would ask that you watch House Bill 407, which deals with car safety inspections. The bill has passed the House and now the Senate will make any changes it desires. As of now a car would be inspected the fourth, eighth, tenth, twelfth years and every year after the twelfth year. There were many amendments made to this bill and it's anyone's guess as to what the Senate will do. I was very concerned about House Bill 156. It would have eliminated some important funding for rural schools. The sponsor made some great changes and now the bill will just eliminate some unnecessary wording and programs that are obsolete.

House Bill 155 would require those who receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Recipients) to submit a written questionnaire to determine the likeliness of potential substance abuse. If they are found to be using certain drugs, they would still receive benefits, but be required to go through a program to help them stop using drugs. I was leery of this bill until I understood the recipient would receive benefits and drug use help. House Bill 319, a bill I sponsored, will require DCFS (Division of Child and Family Services) to create and give to families a pamphlet or flier describing their rights, responsibilities, and resources available to them to improve their parenting skills. This bill will be heard on the consent calendar Monday and I am sure it will pass. This legislative session has been very intense, even though the usual "highly controversial" bills were not heard. We have had plenty of discussion, debate, and behind the scenes arm twisting. I am so honored to have represented my constituents in rural southeastern Utah. I work hard and try to represent the majority of the voices. I am always listening and reaching out to leaders and experts. I also listen to those who are often pushed aside and have no one to champion their causes.

You can contact me by emailing me at, going to Face book: RepWatkins, or Twitter:@repwatkins.

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