By Shauntel Forte
Capital West News
Since 2006, Rep. Kay L. McIff has been serving in the Utah House of Representatives, lending his expertise to improve Utah’s State Legislature. Rep. McIff hails from Sevier County, and he and his wife Renee are the parents to five children. “She has always been supportive and wants me to serve,” said McIff, “She has just been wonderful over the years.”
McIff’s career began long before he landed on Capitol Hill. After working in a private law practice and as a county attorney, McIff became a Utah State Judge. As the presiding judge for the 6th District–which includes parts of Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne, Garfield, Piute, and Kane counties–McIff sat in six different courthouses. But after years of service as an officer of the court, he decided to make the jump to lawmaking and run for office. “I had a group of citizens approach me about running and I consented in a weak moment,” McIff joked.
Courtrooms and legislative chambers only scratch the surface of McIff’s public service. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of District Court Judges, as a member of the Utah State Board of Regents, and Chairman of the Southern Utah University Board of Trustees.
As a legislator, McIff is Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, and a member of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, and the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. “I have a keen interest in all of those areas,” he said.
Beyond that, McIff involved in many of his prior endeavors. “I continue to be intricately involved with higher and public education. The most important thing we do as a state is to educate young people. It’s where most of our money goes and where it should go,” he said. “I’m supportive of those that are teaching in the public schools. I concentrate on trying to help them and make their roles as a teacher a valued role more fairly compensated.”
McIff is currently working on several water rights bills to create an orderly plan for the future. “Our projections are that our population is going to double by 2050,” said McIff. “If that’s true we are going to have to have an orderly process to transition water rights.” McIff has been working on water issues for several years now, believing that they are important to the welfare of the state.
The complex functions and responsibilities of the Utah State Legislature may be a daunting task at times for legislators, McIff said. “This role is a balancing act. You want people to be as free as they can possibly be to make their own decisions, but you enter areas where it becomes dangerous or damaging.”
Still, while he enjoys the bustling rotunda, it is important that legislators not get lost in what is happening around them and that they always recognize the gravity of the job. “The challenge is that it has a sufficient complexity that people become nervous about. You want to make sure that everyone is well-informed,” he said.