[photo: ShaRon Nelson and Dorothy Little represent the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum in Morgan during the 2018 Legislative Session.]
Hello All! Representative Wilde here. It’s been a crazy forty-five days, and I want to share a few of the highlights with the voters of District 53. There was a little bit of drama, wheeling and dealing, and of course, some unexpected highs and lows thrown in just for fun. Without further ado, here is the good, the bad, and the ugly of this session:
With a decrease in our income tax rate to 4.95%, taxpayers will save around $20 million. Add in $84 million in early payoffs on current building debts, and our wallets should be celebrating.
• Education System
The Legislature has upped the game on education, showing we are serious about our children’s future and opportunities for learning and growth. We increased the education budget by $300 million and increased the Weighted Pupil Unit as well. This will allow us to increase teacher salaries and provide more funding for teacher aides. This is a win for our students, teachers and parents.
• Suicide Prevention
Teen suicide is on the rise in Utah, and we are worried about our youth. The governor created a community task force to help combat this epidemic. To support those who may be struggling, the legislature approved the creation of a Statewide Suicide Hotline and passed a Medicaid Waiver for Mental Health issues to help those who are at risk who may not have the resources to get the help they so desperately need.
• Martha Hughes Cannon
A joint resolution to send Martha’s likeness to the US Capitol sailed through both the House and Senate. The first woman in the nation to be elected to the State Senate, Martha was an advocate for Women’s Rights and one of the first women to practice medicine in Utah. It was a privilege to honor her this legislative session.
• Winter Olympics
The House and Senate passed a concurrent resolution to explore the possibility of once again hosting the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in the future. This opportunity will bring growth and tourism to our state, I was happy to support this venture.
• Property Tax
The Legislature passed an increase in property tax. This will be accomplished by freezing the current tax rate for the next five years. I am not in favor of this measure, I feel that it is unfair to property owners in our state.
• The Plastic Bag Bill (aka The Bill Against Park City)
This bill would have prohibited municipalities and counties from creating legislation on the disposal of auxiliary containers (plastic bags, bottles or containers). I spoke against this bill on the Floor. I feel that we should let the municipalities and counties handle their own trash, in the way that works best for them. This bill didn’t pass, cities and counties can sleep easier, knowing their garbage is still in their own hands.
• Private Attorney General Doctrine
This bill would have allowed individuals to be compensated for attorney fees when they bring litigation against the state government. I voted against this one. I think it has the potential to bring about many frivolous lawsuits.
• Utah Lake Amendments
This bill allows for the creation of land peninsulas in Utah Lake that could then be used for more housing and building in that area. Two words: Algae Bloom. This one passed the House and Senate, but not with my vote.
• Donald J Trump Highway
President Trump has done a lot of good things for our state in the short time that he has been president. I am grateful for the reduction of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments. I just don’t think it’s time to name a highway after him.
• Election Laws
What a mess! With the Count My Vote and Keep My Voice Ballot Initiatives, the SCC’s new by-laws, and legislation aimed at fixing SB54 or making preemptive strikes against whatever happens next, candidates and voters alike are frustrated and confused. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the November Election.
There you have it folks, the ups and downs of the legislative session. Of course, this is just a tiny bit of what happened on the Hill. If you have questions on a bill I didn’t cover, or just want to know where I stand on any of the issues that face us every day, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get back to you as soon as I can. As always, my family and I are so very thankful for your continued support. Thank you for trusting me with your vote. I hope to see many of you at your upcoming county conventions.