Watkins Pushes On as Legislative Session Nears Its End

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Carolyn Abeyta and Dr. Cameron Williams from the Carbon Medical Service visited with Representative Christine Watkins during the session last week. 

By Rep. Christine Watkins

We are headed into the final 14 days of the legislative session. Appropriation subcommittees have presented their prioritized budget requests to the Executive Appropriation Committee. I enjoyed being the vice-chair of the Business, Economic Development and Labor Committee. It was great listening to all of the requests but very difficult to decide who would get funding from the state. The BEDL Committee gave a list of our priorities to the Executive Appropriation Committee. This committee will make the final decisions and we will see those results the last week of the session.

I have two bills that are on their way to the governor for signing. HB 104S01 Private Counselors Amendments and HB84 Economic Development Amendments passed and will hopefully be signed by Governor Herbert. This week, I start out presenting three bills in House and Senate committees.

HB138 Special Designation of Route 6 will go before a senate committee. This bill will re-designate Highway 6 from the eastern side of Highway 6 to the western side of Utah as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. It was so designated as part of national highway system in 1949, but somewhere it lost the designation. My bill also gives an appropriation to pay for signs that will show the Mike Dmitrich portion of the highway. This is long overdue; UDOT will not pay for any special signage, but with Mike’s 40 years of service to our area and the state, I believe this is the right thing to do.

Another of my bills is HB207. This bill states that anyone who does not have a front license plate cannot receive a ticket while parked. Not having a front license plate is a secondary offense, but many people receive tickets from meter maids while parked. This bill would eliminate this practice.

HB172 County Offices Amendments will be heard again this week. The Political Subdivisions Committee had some good suggestions to make this amendment better and a substitute bill has been prepared. This bill allows county leaders or the local voters to initiate a change in how elected officials are put into office. The change allows the people or county commissioners to choose which offices will be elected and which offices will be hired. Either way, the local voters will have the opportunity to vote to change or not to change the current method. Those affected are the elected positions, except county commissioners. This bill is not mandatory, but rather leaves it up to county residents to initiate a change.

If the stars stay aligned, Carbon and Emery counties will receive a $1,000,000 grant from the state for the Coal Country Strike Team. I sponsored the appropriation and have worked to keep it very high up on the priority list. The Coal Country Strike Team is also high in the rankings for a potential $1,000,000 matching grant from the Schmidt Futures Foundation. We will know in June or July whether we receive this matching grant.  This team plan has four components: help with technology education, housing, tourism and planning for the two counties.

I am also working on the Future in Design appropriation, which will continue to help the light manufacturing training that is currently in process in Price with its first cohort. This educational template will also be used in other rural areas around the state. I have other appropriation requests that are in the works. I will give a session wrap-up letting you know where my appropriation requests land.

We continue to deal with a number of tough issues; we are in the process of creating a tax reform. Our tax system is lopsided and changes need to be made. I know many residents are finding that they owe more in state taxes because of the federal tax changes.

Thanks again for what you do to make our rural community a great place to live.

Contact:
Email: christinewatkins@le.utah.org, Cell: 435-650-1969, Facebook: Representative Christine Watkins District 69

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