Natural Gas a Viable Alternative Fuel

A friend of mine recently returned from a trip to Southern California and was bemoaning the cost to refuel his vehicle at just under $5 a gallon. Locally, we pay between $3.75 and $4 per gallon. While we don’t pay the California prices yet, filling our tanks remains a painful reminder that we are subject to the market demands and price fluctuations with few options for savings available to the average consumer.

As both a commuter and a legislator, I’m interested in fuel cost and impacts …

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Role of Government

Role of Government

My view of the role of government is based on two primary factors. The first is that in the majority of cases, the level of government closest to the people on an issue is the level best suited to make policy decisions. The second is that government needs to be efficient in its decision-making and application processes. What does this mean? I think decisions are best made where the rubber hits the road, by the community impacted or the folks paying the bills, but this …

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Utah’s Economy

Our economic situation has felt a bit like a roller coaster the past few years.  We all enjoyed the rapid climb in the early 2000’s when it felt like there was no end to the growth and new revenue. But then came the plunge to the bottom. Budgets were slashed, personal wealth diminished, and everyone made due with a whole lot less. After several years of twisting and plunging, the roller coaster leveled out just in time for a new European financial specter to appear …

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Health care

Health care

Insurance premiums and healthcare cost are on an unsustainable trajectory. This is true in the private market and in our public health systems (Medicaid and CHIP from a State Government perspective). Fortunately Utah has been ahead of the curve on health care reform and already has a health insurance exchange in operation (exchange.utah.gov)—something other states are just putting into place as a requirement of the federal Affordable Care Act. The exchange should make it easier to pool health care dollars and comparison-shop insurance products. The …

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Education Funding

Concern about public education funding is consistently a top issue in Utah. I believe most Utahns share the view that investing in future generations by improving the quality of education is a priority, but not at the cost of raising taxes. During the 2012 legislative session, many focused on the projected budget surplus as a means of addressing student population growth in education. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t address the long term sustainability of funding and expanding our education investment over …

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Utah’s Public Lands

Utah’s Public Lands

About 70% of Utah’s land mass continues to be owned and controlled by the federal government. It is no secret that Utah is home to abundant oil and natural gas reserves, but restrictions placed on public lands by the federal government render many reserves difficult or off limits all together to access. That fact became acutely apparent recently when the BLM released a proposal that, if approved, would significantly reduce the amount of federal lands available in Utah for oil shale mining. The lack of …

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Improving Education Performance

In the 2012 legislative session, lawmakers took the opportunity to pass legislation to create tools for evaluating educators, administrators and students all of which is aimed at improving individual performance.

One such bill introduced by Sen. Aaron Osmond (SB 64) and passed by both houses with a strong majority provides for an evaluation process of school teachers and administrators. It received the endorsement of the UEA, State Board of Education, PTA and several other prominent groups promoting the improvement of public education in Utah. The bill …

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Immigration

I’m a strong believer in the rule of law and the need to control our borders. However, as an attorney, I’ve studied the doctrine of preemption outlined in the U.S. Constitution, which dictates where the federal government trumps states on public policy. The State of Utah has extremely limited standing to take action on immigration due to the doctrine of federal preemption. We are further limited by being an interior (non-border) state. Illegal entry is a crime in the border state where the illegal entry …

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Environment / Air Quality

Significant improvements have been made in the last few decades in terms of industrial and manufacturing pollution sources. There may still be room for improvement in that sector, but I believe we need to look at other sources of pollution if we want to see meaningful gains in air quality. I don’t believe enough is being done in terms of providing incentives for individuals or families to limit their personal pollution from vehicles.  Anti-idling, carpooling and public transit incentives ought to be increased along the …

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Modification of Transportation Funding

The legislature, during the 2012 session, put forth HB 173, Transportation Funding Modifications, an important bill that will reduce our State bonding authorization for roads by $130 million. Essentially this means we are self-imposing a lower credit limit so we eliminate the possibility of over extending ourselves with road debt. Rather than have outside financial entities or economic circumstances dictate our credit and debt, we are self-regulating our credit limit. The best guarantee against future economic crisis is to ensure our budgets are sustainable.

The bill …

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