2023 Legislative Session Opens


By Representative Christine Watkins, District 67

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the 2023 Utah Legislature begins 45 days of committee meetings and lots of wrangling. I look forward to representing District 67 during this 2023 General Session.

I am still the House Chair of the Business, Economic Development and Labor Appropriation Subcommittee. My co-chair is Senator Mike McKell, who grew up in Emery County. I am continuing on the Natural Resources Standing Committee and am newly appointed to the House Judiciary Standing Committee. I am excited to listen to new bills and discuss their merits.

I have filed several bills, and I will write about them as they get started in the legislative process. As Chair of the Business, Economic Development and Labor Sub-Committee, I have the opportunity to be the legislative sponsor for several appropriation requests. I am sponsoring the Rural Utah Energy Ecosystem Infrastructure request for Carbon and Emery counties. The counties need improved infrastructure to prepare for present and future business growth, which requires state funding assistance. I am also sponsoring requests for the Healthy Utah Program, Refugee Soccer and an outdoor educational program in Grand County.

Utah is booming and we have an abundance of money to help Utah thrive and give tax breaks to the people who live here. Some tax break ideas under discussion include personal income tax cuts (again), property tax code revisions, rebate checks to individuals, Social Security tax income limit adjustments and the removal of food grocery sales tax. These ideas and others will be debated during the session.

The voucher bill for education is a hot topic this session. This bill would give every child an allocation of money that parents can choose to spend for their children’s education. This would include private, religious, home and public schooling. The money could also be used for services that a school does not provide. Last year’s voucher bill was soundly defeated, but this year, the same sponsor is coupling it with a large increase in teachers’ wages.

Changes to our state flag will also be discussed. The sponsor believes that our flag is indistinguishable, and a committee chose a new flag that they believe will help with “branding” Utah, comparing the design to the Colorado flag’s simplicity. If the bill passes, the old flag would become the ceremonial flag and be used in all ceremonial activities. Please look up the proposed flag, decide how you feel about it and let me know. I am not currently in favor of it, but I will vote the way the majority of my constituents feel.

Other hot topics include election processes and water. This session will have a number of proposed bills that would affect the election process, including one of my own, so keep an eye out for those.  As usual, we have a number of water bills under discussion. The Great Salt Lake is of great concern, as is water conservation. I know we are all hoping that the snow continues to help with our drought situation, but the legislature will be working on bills to ensure that Utah can continue to thrive during critical droughts.

Please feel free contact me. As always, you can contact me by call or text at (435) 650-1969 or by emailing me at christinewatkins@le.utah.gov. You can also follow me on Facebook at Representative Christine Watkins for regular updates. I am also working on updating my website, watkinsforruralutah.com, to improve my communication with you.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you. Stay safe.

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