After I was sworn in in 2015 I was asked by Pasty Stoddard, of the Emery County Progress, for some thoughts on what you would like to accomplish as a commissioner. Here is a follow up on what I have done and what is yet to be accomplished.
Here they are (in no particular order):
This may be the one I was most passionate about, hence I have this website and facebook page. I appreciate those who have taken the time to read, comment, and reach out to me on various subjects. Please feel free to share with your friends and fellow citizens of Emery County!
Work on being as transparent as possible. Letting the people of Emery County know what’s going on, giving them updates, and using social media. Along with being transparent is letting the people have a way to contact their elected officials for rants, raves or ideas. I believe that we will hear great ideas for Emery County from the people of Emery County.
This is one I am still working on, I am hoping to bring better light to what taxes are brought into the county and how and where they are spent.
Transparency in taxation. I want to create an infographic on what monies the county takes in as fines, fees, taxes, PILT, and grants; then break it down into how and where it all is spent. I believe in taxation with representation, we should know where the goes. So we all can have the correct information.
Jordan Leonard, out Economic Development Director, has been great to work with. I continue to work with him to retain and expand the businesses we currently have and to actively pursue bringing new businesses to Emery County.
I want to work with our economic development department to continue to move forward projects that are in play and work to make our county as attractive as possible to future business opportunities. With that, I want to work with the Emery County Business Chamber to help the businesses we have already in the county to grow and expand. We need to develop a more viable and diverse economy in our county.
In working with Shannon Hiatt, the Aquatic Center Director, I believe that the pool is being used more. We have a facebook page for the aquatic center; discount cards for showers, aquacise and lap swim; We are working to purchase a WIBIT with school district participation as part of a fundraiser for the swim team.
I maintain that the government should not be in the business of running businesses. The Aquatic Center is a great facility, but it needs to be utilized more. I want to see it priced competitively with the pool in Price and to develop more activities at the Aquatic Center.
We have many great people who volunteer a lot of hours on behalf of the county and to them, I want to say a big, Thank You! We wouldn’t be able to accomplish those things on our own. I love that we have so many that care and want to be involved.
One thing we recently did as a commission was to approve county employee prices at the aquatic center for all those who volunteer on behalf of the county (e.g. Special Service District Boards, County Boards and Committees, EMS and Search and Rescue, etc.)
I want to continue working with and supporting the great people on the boards and councils the county has to further the efforts of our county.
I hope everyone realizes we are all in this together (cue the song from High School Musical). It’s true and I hope those who know me and read this know that I have been actively working as commissioner for the benefit of the whole county.
With all this, I would like to help build a better unity throughout the county, we are one county.
As always, I would love your feedback on this and remember: be part of the solution.
Electronic Cigarette – Support
E-cigarettes should be regulated like regular cigarettes. The nicotine can be higher in e-cigs and recently has been found to have more carcinogens than regular cigs. It is on the rise quickly with the kids, which is a troubling stat. The Health Departments and CTCs support this bill.
Utah Public Land Management -Monitor
If this is to work that this bill be enacted upon the fed giving the state the right to manage its own land, I support. I believe in locally managed lands. This bill should include all Federally “owned” lands e.g. BLM and FS.
State Property and SITLA
My concern with this bill is that the state is wanting to override local ordinance authority over state land within the bounds of the county or municipality. We don’t like when the feds do it. Please don’t do that to the counties or the cities.
Alcohol Amendments – Support
I support the loosening of Utah alcohol sales regulations. Namely, removing the Zion Curtain; If operating under a restaurant license, minors may not be seated/served within 10 feet of the bar.
Juvenile JRI – Oppose (for now)
My sheriff and attorney do not like this. Their associations don’t like this. Does reform need to happen? Yes. But let’s make sure we have a handle on JRI before we start in on the juveniles.
Outdoor Recreation Grant Program – General Support
While I would prefer the .3% tax to be on outdoor gear vs Transient Room Tax. It would be good to help with the outdoor rec program and trails matching program.
Short-term Rental (AirBNB Bill) – Oppose
I am an hotelier, and I have used AirBNB. I really like and have enjoyed AirBNB several times. I believe in capitalism and believe that we should not, as a government, get in the way of it. This bill says that political subdivisions cannot prohibit but can regulate short-term rentals, this should be left to the local level of government to decide. I believe that TRT tax should still be collected on these short-term rentals.
Opioid Prescribing Regulations – Support
Sets a 7-day opiate prescription limit for someone who hasn’t had an opiate prescription in the last 90 days and requires them to check the Utah controlled substance database. This keeps the supply of potentially abusable opiates in home medicine cabinets to a bare minimum and prevents multiple prescriptions for opiates.
Insurance Opioid Regulation – Support
Requires Medicaid and commercial health insurance companies to establish policies to minimize the risks of opiate addiction and overdose from prescribing high doses of opiates and co-prescribing opiates and benzodiazepines. It also requires insurers to enact a policy to provide for medication-assisted treatment for patients with opiate dependence.
Partial Filling – Support
Allows a patient or a physician to request that an opiate prescription be only partially filled. This would also minimize the supply of leftover opiates in household medicine chests.
Federalism Amendments – Watching.
While I support the idea of federalism and following the 10th Amendment that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. I am not sure what the $350,000 is going to do to help this. Yes on federalism, no to the fiscal note.
Safety Amendments – Support
If I understand this bill correctly, it takes away the need to have vehicles inspected annually or when it is mandated by the state. From what I have read, inspecting vehicles has not increased vehicle safety on the roads. I am a fan of evidence-based programs. If there is little to no corresponding evidence of a program it should be removed.
Living Wage – Oppose
The minimum wage is not supposed to be a living wage. It is low for those entering the marketplace, learning skills and getting experience. And for those who want to make more ask for it and move up the ladder, find another job where they can more up the ladder, or gain a greater education on a skill set for greater opportunity for a better job. I do believe that minimum wage should go up based on inflation but not arbitrarily for the good feelings for the minimum wage earner.
Throughout the Utah State Legislative Regular Session I have been privileged and happy to meet with and discuss rules, regulations, laws & statutes that affect our state and county. It’s been a lot of time and reading and meetings. Some of these bills I was interested in, others came from the school district, Farm Bureau, Special Service Districts and you. I will post more information on some of bills that I addressed with our representatives after their regular session is over on Friday. I will have a link to the bill, my reasons for supporting/opposing or monitoring, and the final legislative verdict on the bills. Continue reading Commissioners Report 3-7-17→
Recently, I was able to attend Rural County Day on the Hill. Governor Herbert, Lt Governor Cox, Representative Albrecht, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development addressed us. There was also a bit of Q&A for each.
In the Governor’s recent State of the State address, he said he wants to add 25,000 jobs to rural Utah. The Governors Rural Partnership Board put together the map to the left (click for a pdf) of how one job in rural Utah compares to a job on the Wasatch Front. For 1 job in Emery County, it is estimated to about 50 jobs on the Wasatch Front. That is quite significant. I told the Governor that rural Utah needs the infrastructure that the Wasatch front takes for granted in order to be able to develop and diversify our economies. I told him we have rail, highway, power, but fiber optic broadband; what we are missing in parts or our county is natural gas. The public utility rules and statutes need to change for them to be able to expand and provide money to operate and maintain the infrastructure. We’ll see where it goes.
Another aspect of this Day on the Hill was a presentation of Health Equity that expanded their business to Carbon county. I have heard that they have approximately 40 people from Emery County working there.
Carbon, Emery and USU-E at the Rural Day on the Hill
The State legislature is in full swing. Senator Hinkins sent out a letter that you can read here on some of the bills that he is watching. Some that I am watching are:
SB 139 – Oppose: Limits school district participation to a maximum of 50% in a CRA (Community Reinvestment Area)
SB 142 – Oppose: Eliminates school district participation in tax increment financing by removing tax revenue collected under the basic local levy
HB 207 – Watching: While I support the idea of federalism and following the 10th Amendment that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. I am not sure what the $350,000 is going to do to help this. Yes on federalism, no to the fiscal note.
On September 1, 2015, there was an Editor’s Note in the Emery County Progress that gave a short history of EMS in the county, along with a list of concerns and a list of possible solutions. It also noted that there had been a severe decline in EMTs in the county, trainings were few to nonexistent, and that there were holes in the on-call schedule.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had a rule that stated paid-volunteers over a certain amount of hours were considered full-time employees and were required to be offered insurance or pay a penalty. With the variableness of hours of on-call time the Commission felt that it was not a good use of the taxpayer’s money to pay these penalties, and we had a deadline on when those penalties were to be implemented.
I recently attended a meeting regarding pipeline safety. When I think of pipeline safety I usually think of gas lines, but there are water lines, electric lines, telecommunications, sewer, reclaimed water, etc.
We also think that calling 811 is for large projects but it’s even for digging for fence posts, a mailbox or even a tree. The service is free, just call a couple of days before you do any digging. You can call or go online at bluestakes.org to set up a ticket. When you do the utilities will be alerted and they should be out within 48 hours to mark if there is their utility running along your property. If you do hit, damage, cut or punture a line call 911 as soon as possible. Stay safe.
Below is a color code for things that might come up that is in the ground.
In our county when we think of mining we think coal. It’s only right that we do. Coal lights, powers and heats our homes and businesses.
In this issue of Mining Focus I was reminded of all the other good things that come from mining. There were two articles, one that focused on Thanksgiving and the other on Christmas and I wanted to summarize and share some of the information that they had.
From the Thanksgiving article it said that we should be thankful to mining for providing: