Busy 4th Week at the Legislature

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By Representative Christine Watkins, District 69

Last week was a busy week for legislators as we completed the work in our Sub-appropriation Committees. I am the House Chair of the Business and Economic Development and Labor Committee, and Senator Mike McKell is the Senate Chair. As Chairs, we presented to the Executive Appropriation Committee on Friday with our committee’s recommendations.

We have a lot of one-time money available this year and a number of requests were funded. I had requests in other sub-appropriation committees for our Association of Governments and USU Eastern with Dustless Ash, but I am afraid they are likely not going to get funded because of the emphasis on restoring funds.

My Rural Leadership Academy had its funding restored and Healthy Utah had its funding restored. The emphasis was to restore funding to entities that had their funding taken away during one of our Special Sessions. Of course, we restored funding to our state departments and we requested that the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control receive a big boost to their employee compensation. They had a 108% employee turnover rate last year because their pay is so low.

In my Natural Resources Committee, we heard HB295 Wildlife Modifications. The bill would not allow trail cameras from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. It would not allow baiting of any kind during hunting season. Baiting is used more by bow hunters so they can get closer to the animals to shoot with their bow, which does not have the range of a rifle. The sponsor of the bill showed the committee many pictures and stories of abuses. I voted against the bill, along with two other southeastern legislators, Scott Chew from Uintah County and Phil Lyman from San Juan County. It will now go the Full House.

Another interesting bill is HB 82 Single Housing Amendments. We all know available housing in Utah is at an all-time low. This bill helps increase housing availability and relieve pressure on prices by decreasing regulations on housing. It would make it easier to rent out basements, side buildings and available buildings on private property.

HB158 Juvenile Interrogation Amendments is a good bill to watch. This bill addresses the interrogation of minors who are in custody for an offense. It states that a minor child has the right to have a parent, a legal guardian or a friendly adult present. It provides exceptions to this requirement and clarifies a minor’s waiver to the right to counsel for court proceedings. Minors have too often not been given the right to have a parent or friendly adult present when they have gotten into trouble with the law. I am supporting this bill.

Remember, all committee meetings can be found at le.utah.gov/committees. The meetings allow public comment and are recorded and can be played back whenever you have time.

Contact
Email: christinewatkins@le.utah.gov
Facebook: Representative Christine Watkins
Cell: (435) 650-1969

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