Utah County lawmakers set their session priorities

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Utah County lawmakers are sponsoring bills dealing with everything from educating drivers about air pollution to increasing the penalty for assisted suicide in the 2018 legislative session.

Bryan Pearson
The Utah House has 75 members. The words “Vox Populi,” or “voice of the people” appear about the speaker’s chair. (Bryan Pearson)

At a recent informational meeting sponsored by Utah Valley Young Republicans, lawmakers listed their priorities:

Air pollution

Rep. Michael Kennedy, R-Alpine, said, “We need to educate people on the potency of what we do day to day and how it impacts the air quality in Utah.”

While the file for the bill is not open, Kennedy will prioritize searching for solutions to the air pollution in the state, which may include mandating an educational video on air quality each time a driver renews their license.

Occupational freedom

Rep. Norman Thurston, R-Provo, is working on an occupational licensing bill, clearing paths for many to pursue their work without interruption.

“These bills are every effort we can make to get the government out of the business of telling people where they can work or that they can’t do their jobs,” Thurston said.

One example of this is taxi drivers — those who wish to drive a taxi only need a regular Utah driver’s license instead of a specialized taxi driver’s license.

Assisted suicide

Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, brought up the difficult bills he is working on this session, including bill HB86, which makes it an offense to aid another in committing suicide. If the bill passes, assisted suicide would result in a charge of manslaughter.

Water legislation

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, discussed many concerns with the Utah water supply, mentioning bills such as SB34 and SB45 which work on amending laws surrounding water rights and the responsibilities of the Legislative Water Development Commission.

“I run a lot of water bills because we’re losing a lot of agricultural land and water we need to protect,”Dayton said.

As for the challenges of the upcoming session, all of the legislators agreed:

“Half of what we do is passing bills, and the other half of what we do is budget,” Thurstonsaid on behalf of the present legislators. “All of us are united in looking for ways to trim spending that is just dumb. We will be pushing back against useless spending.”

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