9 Days and Counting at the Legislature

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By Representative Christine Watkins, District 67

The controversial actions of Utah State School Board member Natalie Kline were taken care of this past week. On Wednesday, the State School Board met and censured Miss Cline; the only thing she can do is attend meetings and vote.

Both the House and the Senate voted to censure her. We could have voted to impeach her, but most of us felt that would give her a national voice and we did not want that to happen. Many entities and leaders asked her to resign, but she will not and intends to continue running for her seat. Our staff at the legislature checked all records and she is the first person in Utah history to be censured. I hope her constituents will elect someone else.

We continued to pass and even kill a few bills last week. H.B. 410 4S, my Utah San Rafael Research Center bill, passed the House unanimously and is on its way to a Senate committee. There are people who think the Research Center has failed, but it has not. The state does not have an energy research center, and this fits the bill for what we want and need.

This Thursday, we are staying as long as we need to in order to pass bills. After we are done, any bills on the board will be wiped off and only high priority bills will be returned the next day. This will happen in both the House and the Senate, then it is crunch time.

HB 208 2nd S, Teacher Licensure Amendments, passed the House. This bill directs the State Board of Education and the Utah Department of Higher Education to develop a strategy for modifying traditional and alternative programs for training and licensing teachers. It prohibits the state board from requiring a pedagogical performance assessment to obtain a license. There are so many people trying to get a license to teach and too many unnecessary requirements stopping them from being fully licensed.

Another bill will create a pilot program to allow people who have an off-highway vehicle (OHV) or a food handler’s permit to have those permits online in digital form. It is still in its infancy but looks promising.

HB283 Vehicle Registration Amendments will create an opt-in monthly vehicle registration program in which vehicle owners pay 1/12 of all registration fees monthly. Payment will be online, and registration will be auto renewed each month. Registration decals will no longer be issued to any vehicle owners. Exceptions will be boats, park model recreational vehicles and off highway vehicles.

Senator David Hinkins passed a good bill this week, SB 125, Secondary Water Amendments, that will allow rural areas to have one strategic point for a secondary water metering system. This is much better for small areas that have irrigation and home watering systems. It also saves a lot of money; the bill also raised the cap for grants in more urban areas. Many areas have used all the money allotted to them and can now use the money that the rural areas are not using. A great win-win bill.

Thanks for the email and text messages. I am honored to serve you.

Contact
Email: Christinewatkins@le.utah.gov
Cell: 435-650-1969

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