Legislature Passes 2 Controversial Bills


By Representative Christine Watkins, District 67

H. B. 257, Sex-Based Designations for Privacy, Anti-Bullying, and Women’s Opportunities 5th Substitute and H.B. 261 4th Substitute, the Equal Opportunity bill, passed the Utah Senate with changes. If you want to read the outcome of the bills, go to le.utah.gov and look for the most recent substitution. Both bills are on the governor’s desk for him to sign. There were many substitutions and some significant changes to both bills. We are now moving on to the rest of the bills that have been filed.

I had a good week with my legislation. H.B. 70 1st Substitute has passed the House Committee, House Floor, and Senate Committee and is now in the hands of Senator Michael Kennedy to pass on the Senate Floor. It is a committee bill and a request from the State Department of Health and Social Services.

H.B. 116 Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Act Amendments has passed the House Committee, House Floor and Senate Committee unanimously. It is now in the hands of Senator David Hinkins to pass on the Senate Floor. This bill allows clean and renewable energy projects to apply for Commercial Property Assessed Energy Loans and companies to sell the products they produce. The original wording of the law did not allow the selling of these products.

Once the governor signs the bill, Wellington Microtech will be able to complete the last steps of their project and hopefully start building this year. This project, once built, is projected to hire around 50 people. This will open building opportunities for many companies in Utah.

My bill H.B. 410 San Rafael State Energy Lab was released Friday. This bill establishes the San Rafael Energy Research Center and creates the State Energy Lab. It establishes a board and outlines the purpose and duties of the center. It appropriates $2 million for the purchase of the center and $1 million for an ongoing appropriation to hire a director and for maintenance and operation of the lab. It is a heavy lift, but leadership is supporting the bill.

I will also be supporting the removal of the sunset of H.B. 78, Rural Film Rebate. The two-year pilot is over, and the program was successful and filming in rural Utah needs to continue.

I will not be supporting H.B. 285 Labor Union Amendments. This bill is going after governing public employers and labor organizations. The bill sponsor wants a public employee organization to re-certify every five years and prohibit a public employer from deducting union dues from employee’s wages. This would affect teacher’s associations, the United Mine Workers, AFL-CIO groups and any other union organizations. This type of attack has been going on for years and I will not support it.

I am House Chair of the Business, Economic Development and Labor Committee. We have groups come before us and request funding for projects (RFA’s). We were told last session and this session that any projects we approve and send to the Executive Appropriation Committee must have a statewide component. It is really going to be hard to tell people their projects are great but cannot be funded.

Thank you for letting me represent you.

Cell: (435) 650-1969
Email: christinewatkins@le.utah.gov

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