Thursday, November 20, 2014
I have had a couple constituents ask me recently why the State is considering moving the Draper prison from its current location. There is a perception that keeping the facility where it is now is a better bargain for the taxpayer than moving it to another location.
For insight on the information guiding the process, here is a presentation we received last year regarding the cost-benefits of relocation:
As you can see, the costs of relocation are offset by the sale of the underlying property. Also, the prison will need to be rebuilt since it is old and atrophying. Given all the considerations, it appears that relocating is in the best interest of our economy and our corrections system.
Nevertheless, for those of you not satisfied with the above presentation. Here is lengthy report we received with all the wonkish details. You can relish in the minutia here:
If you have any questions about the process or policy of this decision (that aren't answered in these presentations), don't hesitate to CONTACT ME.
Monday, November 3, 2014
If you are reading this, you are either wanting to know more about the candidates in the race for House District 9 or you are a regular recipient of my political newsletter. If you are not receiving the newsletter, but want to, email me and I will make sure you are included.
So, in case you are wondering why I am worth re-electing, here are the top reasons for your consideration:
That's right, you are reading this and these are my thoughts.. Politics is volatile and often times politicians find themselves contradicting their own positions or speaking in a duplicitous manner. I have found that writing my thoughts in a public forum does two things. First, it lets you know where I stand and why. Secondly, it acts as a permanent reference that can be used to understand history on an issue, the changes in circumstances surrounding issues, and it can be accessed at any time by anyone. This shared record of my thoughts and views keeps me grounded.
I make it a point to strongly represent our district's interests at the State Capitol. Prior to my election, our district's voice was literally ignored in the halls of government. However, through relationship building, strong advocacy, and a consistent voice, District 9 is now respected again and recognized as having a seat at the table.
Our district is unique in that it has rural, suburban, and urban areas. Legislation that impacts one area may affect another in a different way. It is a Legislator's job to reconcile the needs of his or her constituents. The best way to do that is through open communication and dialogue with citizens in the community. I have continuously made myself available to you to discuss concerns and I have been very effective in turning the wheels of our state government to address your needs.
People often wonder what compels men and women to enter politics. There are many reasons. Some are good; others are less desirable, perhaps. For me, it is a passion for serving the community and helping to improve the lives and circumstances of our people. Our family has done some bold and risky things in an effort to help our neighborhood. Fortunately, the efforts have made a difference. Our life experience has been an excellent training ground for me in serving at the State Capitol and I have learned many valuable lessons that have helped me to better address the needs of our diverse district.
Here are a few points from my record that I am proud of:
- Endorsed by Independent Business Owners and the NFIB
- Rated 100% in 2014 by the Salt Lake Tribune on responsiveness to Clean Air Legislation
- Passed Legislation Reducing Unemployment Taxes by $24 Million
- Introduced the Latinos In Action mentorship program to Ogden School District which boasts a 90%+ college placement for hispanic youth
- Appointed by Governor Herbert to the Multi-Cultural Commission in 2011
- Proposed Legislation to Reform Utah’s Court Systems to increase accountability
- Passed Legislation that reduced repeat crime by fixing poor record keeping of incarcerated offenders
- Passed Law bringing common sense to building codes related to owners of older homes
- Sponsored and passed legislation protecting Weber County’s Railroad Museums
Of course, there is much more and you can find that here on the blog.
If you have any concerns or issues, I am here to assist you. I look forward to your support as you go to the ballot box. Thank you for your past support. I hope to continue to serve the people of District 9.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Have you ever wondered about those judges on the ballot who are up for retention election? Unless you have had the privilege of getting acquainted with one while standing in court next to your public defender, the judges are probably the candidates that most of us know the least about.
So, if you live in Weber County, please click on the link below to read about each judge that will appear on our ballot this year:
Let's make sure we are as informed as we can be when we reach the ballot box. Our government will be much better for our efforts.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
I was honored this week to receive a "Legislative Champion" award from the Utah Business Coalition for my work in the House to make Utah a business friendly environment. I am grateful for the part I can play to help keep Utah's economy moving forward and encourage an environment that creates jobs for its citizens.
Monday, October 13, 2014
How much does our electorate know about Utah State Government? This hilarious video hosted by Lt. Governor Spencer Cox gives us some insight.
Next Up: Who is the Utah House Majority Whip? (...and what IS a House Majority Whip anyway?)
Thursday, October 9, 2014
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I was invited by the director of the YCC Center in Ogden to speak to advocates and stakeholders about the importance of recognizing the impact domestic violence has in our community.
Ogden Police Chief Mike Ashment spoke before me and shared some shocking facts. Ogden Police Department responded to over 1,400 domestic violence calls last year. Currently, they are on pace to nearly match that for 2014. After my remarks, we heard a compelling personal story from a survivor of domestic violence.
This brave woman talked about how her boyfriend began to control all aspects of her life and eventually cut her off from communication with her family. He became physically and emotionally abusive. His vices cost him his job and it put both of them homeless on the streets of Las Vegas. They barely survived by foraging in the the city center.
Ultimately, she escaped to Utah and was able to rebuild her life and her self esteem with the help of the staff at Ogden's YCC Center. It was a compelling and emotional story to hear.
Domestic violence is abundant in our society much more than our culture recognizes. We seem to pay attention only when it escalates to the point of irreversible tragedy. I believe we can do better. We need to let those in abusive relationship know that they need not tolerate abusive treatment and that there are safe havens available to help them escape the cycle of violence. The YCC is one such safe haven in Weber County.
Let's take a moment to contemplate the impact that domestic violence has on our community and future generations of kids who witness it in their homes. We need to be willing to reach out to those who are suffering and encourage them to seek help. May we have the courage and wisdom to do so.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
|Photo Courtesy The Salt Lake Tribute|
During our most recent interim legislative meeting, we received an update on the the Draper Prison relocation process. We were told that 25 sites have been selected throughout the state for vetting based on a specific set of criteria. Out of curiosity, I inquired if Weber County was on the "Top 25" list and I was told that it was.
So, could the State Prison end up in Weber County? To answer this question we have to dig into the moving parts of the process. First, lets discuss the criteria that PRADA (the agency tapped to vet the proposition of a new prison) is using to determine the best site. The agency is ranking sites based on a score of 100 possible points with points being given for the following characteristics:
Proximity to Society and Amenities - 35 Points (the closer the prison is to services the higher the ranking)
Community Support - 15 Points
Land Quality and Environmental Impact - 15 Points
Infrastructure - 15 Points
Community Services - 10 Points
Development Costs - 10 Points
Development Costs - 10 Points
We were not versed in the exact way points would be assigned, but this helps give us an idea of the general criteria.
Obviously, Weber County scores well on proximity to amenities. It would score high in that category. But, when it comes to the Community Support issue, the discussion becomes interesting. While some local governments scoff at the idea of hosting a prison, others are contending for the prison to come to them because it is a source of stable jobs. Thus, these communities are competing with each other in the form of economic incentives to attract the prison to their location. In talking to those informed on this issue in Weber County, the county is not really interested in participating in this bidding war. Combined with the ill-will expressed by most residents of Weber County regarding the idea of bringing the prison here, local leaders would be hard pressed to give away precious taxpayer money while simultaneously poking those taxpayers in the eye with a stick. The proposition appears to be a non-starter as local leaders look to avoid displeasing the electorate.
Another area Weber County scores low on is land quality. The only place a prison could be built without using eminent domain to acquire farm land would be in the extreme western portion of the county near the lake. That land has a water table that is nearly above ground. The swampy land is just too difficult to build on without incurring a tremendous expense. The water table issue also means that our environmental impact may be larger than is desired due to its proximity to wildlife habitat. Finally, we have development costs and community services which are also impacted due to the swamp lands problem.
So, when factoring all these things together, Weber County scores pretty low on the dial. I am told that due to this, it has not made it to the Top 10 of potential sites. But, given our citizen's general unease with the proposition, that may just be for the better.