By Representative Christine Watkins, District 69
First, the good news: the new consensus revenues for the years 2021 and 2022 identify $212 million in additional ongoing money and $315 million in one-time money. This year, a historic $400 million increase will go toward public education, and a significant portion of ongoing funds will be dedicated to increased enrollment in Medicaid expansion. We, as a legislature, will also give a significant tax cut to Utah taxpayers.
“Years of smart and responsible fiscal planning have allowed Utah to weather economic hardships better than many other states and positions us for continued economic expansion,” said Speaker Brad Wilson. Policy makers have about $1.3 billion one-time and $205 million ongoing to allocate during the 2021 General Session. But, with more than that in requests!
HB 94 Microenterprise Home Kitchen Amendments, a bill I sponsored, has passed on the House Floor and is on its way to the Senate. A Microenterprise Home Kitchen is a non-commercial kitchen facility located in a private home where food is handled, stored, prepared or offered for sale. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many households found themselves unemployed and struggling to make ends meet without usual sources of income. Microenterprise home kitchens have become a means to supplement income without the cost of a large facility.
Issues have risen regarding the sanitation of these Microenterprise Home Kitchens. HB94 gives these enterprises the opportunity to receive a permit issued by a local health department that will bring validity to their home business and ensure customer safety while allowing these Microenterprise Home Kitchens to bring in much needed side income.
SB10 Place Name Amendments, sponsored by Senator Iwamoto, addresses names of places and authorizes the Division of Indian Affairs to help facilitate the application process to change the name of places that refer to American Indians. The aim of this bill is to include Native American tribes in this process and to promote cooperative relationships. I am the House Sponsor and passed it on the House Floor last week. It is now on its way to the Governor for signing.
HB 188 State Stone Designation, a bill I sponsored, has passed in the Senate and is on its way to the Governor for signing. Senator Winterton presented it in the full Senate. We are both excited to highlight Duchesne County and adopt this beautiful stone as a unique symbol of Utah.
I was happy to co-sponsor a bill by Representative Birkeland that will preserve female sports. Women’s sports have always been an important topic to me, and I believe we need to preserve these sports and allow women to play on an even field. The Governor said in a news conference that he would not sign the bill as written. Many female representatives met with him and gave some excellent ideas for changes to the bill. If you’re interested in this bill, look it up and watch for the changes as it heads to the Senate.
HB 177, Teaching Consent in Schools, has been very controversial and was presented, again, in my House Education Committee. I voted against the bill because I believe the present curriculum is adequate and parents still have the right to opt in for their children. It barely passed out of committee with a 6-5 vote. It is now headed to the House Floor and it will be interesting to see if it passes there.
Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to represent you.