4 Weeks Down, 3 Weeks Left in 2023 Legislature


By Representative Christine Watkins, District 67

When we start the Legislative Session, I always think seven weeks is a long time; then suddenly, we are over half done. That is where we are now. We are so busy from day one that time flies.

I have been attending committee meetings and presenting my own bills. I have had two bills voted down and three are being held in committees. One of those has been resolved and will be on the next agenda and I know it will pass the committee unanimously. That bill will better clarify and tighten the process for determining whether a person who has committed a crime is incompetent to stand trial.

The State of Utah has more individuals being declared incompetent than many other states. This trend allows criminals to go back out to commit more crimes. My bill only allows certain people to be able to claim to the court or attorneys that someone is incompetent to stand trial. It also allows the court to go back into the individual’s past criminal history.

The bill was heard in the Judicial Committee, of which I am a member. There are several attorneys on the committee, and I had to satisfy their concerns as well as members of the courts. We were able to amend the bill in a way that pleases all parties, and I am confident that the result will better protect victims of crimes. I am still working on my other held bills and hope to work them out to the committees’ satisfaction as well.

Ninety bills have gone all the way through the process so far. H.B. 55 Off-Highway Vehicle Registration Requirements exempts a snowmobile from the requirement to obtain and display a license plate. It also requires a one-time course for people to operate an off-highway vehicle. This course does not apply to snowmobile owners or people who are part of a guided tour. It is offered online and does not take much time to complete.

H.B. 108 Child Sex Doll Prohibition dealt with a subject that I was unaware of. This bill makes it a crime to own, buy or distribute a child sex doll. This is big business and obviously not a good business. This bill is an important one but not a fun one to deal with.

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we had a Special Session where we pulled back funding from several departments. Medicaid dental funding was withdrawn and left many adults without dental care. S.B. 19 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to authorize dental services to Medicaid-eligible adults not already eligible for dental services. Most of the funding for this program comes from the Federal Government. I was pleased this program was reinstated.

We are still working on tax issues. We do not have the final revenue numbers but are still talking about and confirming where representatives want to put their support. I was the legislative sponsor for several RFA’s (Request for Appropriation). Many of them landed on priority lists and have been sent to the Executive Appropriation Committee. A lot of them will be beneficial for our area, and I will let you know how many get funded when we get the final lists.

My intern this session is Hannah Oh. She is a Utah Valley University student and has been extremely helpful. Being a chair of a committee adds extra meetings and responsibilities, so it is nice to have someone help keep me where I belong and track each of my bills in their journey through the legislature.

This year has also come with many new faces. With so many new legislators (18), I am still learning what their names are and what part of the state they represent. They have brought a whole new attitude to the House. Interestingly, most of them do not want the new state flag. This issue has become quite divisive on the House floor. The new representatives have a flag pin they are giving out to the representatives who are not voting in favor of the new flag.

Just a note, if you send a form letter through email, I read a few, realize that they will all say the same thing, then I start removing them. My email algorithm also eventually sends those emails to my spam folder, so I never even see those! I highly encourage anyone who wishes to contact me with their opinions to reach out personally by emailing me directly or by texting or calling me. Make sure to include where you are from, so I know I’m listening to my constituent. Visit my website this week to sign up for my mailing list and to easily send me an email directly from my page!

Thank you for letting me represent and work for you.

Cell: (435) 650-1969

Email: christinewatkins@le.utah.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WatkinsDistrict67/

Website: www.watkinsforruralutah.com

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