Representative Christine Watkins spends time with Maegan Wilber from the Museum of the San Rafael last week.
By Representative Christine Watkins
I had a very busy week at the legislature. The legislature has passed 234 bills as of March 4, 2017. On Tuesday night, we worked on bills until 10 p.m. Thursday night, the majority caucus met until 9:30 p.m.
HB237, the bill that would allow concealed carry of a weapon that is unloaded without a permit and prohibits possession of a firearm when domestic violence issues are in play, was debated Tuesday evening. I voted against the bill, but it passed out of the house. The Senate sponsor and the House sponsor, Representative Lee Perry, decided that controversy and NRA’s opposition to the bill was enough to stop them from going forward with the bill.
HB29S4 was a bill that would renew tax credits for the purchase of energy efficient electric vehicles. Many of us felt that we no longer needed to incentivize people to purchase these vehicles. They are popular (and pricey), but need no prodding by government to get people to buy them. I voted against this tax credit; it is time to let the vehicles stand on their own.
HB 442 is the infamous bill that would allow restaurants to remove the so-called “Zion Curtain” under certain conditions. It will raise the price of alcohol by 2%, require alcohol education classes in junior high and high school and change the licenses of some of the bar/restaurants. I was one of just a few who voted against this bill. I feel that the bar and restaurant owners have worked hard to comply with the laws that were passed five or six years ago. This bill is going to drastically change requirements for some owners. The idea of tearing down the “Zion Curtain” and requiring a 48-inch wall or a 10-foot (called a moat by some) barrier is just going too far. The bill is sponsored by the house majority leader, which makes some representatives hesitant to vote against it. I think government should set the rules and then leave people alone. There is a five-year transition time frame to comply with the new law, just in case the law needs to be adjusted.
Another bill that is coming is HB41. It will allow motorcyclists to travel between lanes of traffic on Utah roads. It is called lane splitting, and it allows a motorcyclist to pass another vehicle moving in the same direction in the same lane. When a motorcyclist determines that the move can be made safely and without going over 40 mph, the move is allowed.
I was able to get an appropriation of $150,300 for Wellington City. This will allow the city to get the engineering plan done and hopefully apply for the permit to clean out the area of the Price River that keeps flooding Wellington City. This next week will be pretty hectic as usual. Monday will be the last day for committees and then it will be hearing and debating bills. We will end the session at midnight on Thursday, March 9.
Thanks for the letters, emails and phone calls.