As your legislator, I have made it one of my top priorities to be open and accessible to you. My constituents and our area are the only "special interests" I have, and I am committed to earning your continued trust through hard work, honesty and transparency.
Throughout my years of service in the Utah Legislature, I have consistently fought back against federal intrusion in our education system, on our lands and in our healthcare. Local control is at the heart of a well-run, effective, and efficient government, and I will not stand for the federal government attempting to take away our authority or govern that which should be managed locally and at the state level.
During my time at the Utah Legislature, I have sponsored and passed 89% of the bills I have put forth, on critical issues like public lands, water, wildland fire, small business, workers compensation, tax issues, and election law, to name a few. It's important to remember that sponsoring a bill, no matter how little or how many of them, is relatively easy, but it's actually passing those bills that takes tremendous dedication, knowledge, extensive research, and relationships with lawmakers and leaders and constituents built on mutual trust and respect. An effective legislator recognizes that working all alone nothing gets accomplished, but working together with the highest of ethics and values brings about great things, particularly so for our rural area. And that is how I have represented you at the Utah Legislature.
Economic Vitality & Lower Taxes:
The only way we can solve the long-term funding issues in our state is to grow the economic activity and increase jobs. More taxes will never be the answer. I received the fourth highest score in the State Senate from the Utah Taxpayers Association because I have a proven track record supporting economic growth through wise tax policy. I know from personal business experience, as well as my experience serving on the Cedar City Council and Economic Development Board, that most of our job growth comes from small business expansion.
When my wife Chris and I bought our first drug store in 1996, we had eight employees, and five of them were my family. We now have two pharmacies and drug stores, two retail stores and 50 employees. If we had 10 businesses that had the same track record as ours then we would have the equivalent of a large company. We have to make sure that our tax and regulation structure is conducive to small business growth. We also have to position our local economic development boards in a position to benefit from the state resources provided by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Nearly 70% of our state is under federal control, and they have locked the door pretty tight on what we can and can’t do on these federal lands. I am a firm believer that those who use the lands as a resource are the best stewards; whether it be the ranchers and farmers, or the sportsmen and energy producers. These people appreciate the fact that they can’t just use up this resource and throw it away. They have to preserve the lands in order to use it over and over again for our benefit.
I support and will continue to support legislation that pushes the federal government to give more control to the state of Utah over what is allowed on our public lands. This can lead to more gas, oil and coal production which can help our local economy as well as supply critical energy resources.
For the most part, utilities are best handled on the municipal or county level, not on the state level. There are times when something crosses county boundaries where the state can help facilitate through management or financing. The state collects the Class B and C road funds and then distributes those funds to the cities, towns and counties to maintain their roads. One area of concern that I have is the deterioration of many of our rural roads. We certainly need to work together to find sources of funds that can be used to improve and maintain these roads that are so vital to our rural population.
The framers of our Constitution intended for the majority of powers to be at the state level, not at the federal level. I strongly support the 10th Amendment. I am a strong proponent of local control, as the more close people are to decisions made, the better the decisions are. For example, I know that if Utah was allowed to manage public lands, we would do a far better job of utilizing these resources than the federal government.
There have been numerous state rights-type bills that have come through the Legislature each year, of which I have supported virtually all. As your Senator, I will continue fighting for states rights and local control.
This has been a very controversial and emotional issue the past few years. First of all, the federal system is broken, as the federal government continues to refuse to enforce the border and our current immigration laws. This puts great pressure on the states to deal with the situation. I have supported and will continue to support enforcement provisions that allow us to get rid of the criminal element of illegal immigration. I also support E-Verify. In fact my business uses E-Verify on all of our employees. That is current Utah law. We do need to pass a modification to the state E-Verify law to conform with some constitutional issues in the current law; as we can withhold a business license but we can’t fine them as our current law does.
I recognize that there are basic functions that state government has to take care of. I am not in favor of instituting new, extravagant programs with state dollars. I support basic needs first and foremost. There are resources that are distributed to different areas of the state for needed projects and programs. I feel it is my responsibility to stay connected with my local officials and constituents so that I know what the local needs are and then advocate for them in the Legislature. I also recognize that it is my responsibility to ask the questions: “Is this really needed?” or “Is there a return on investment?”
Because of my profession, I have dealt with a lot of healthcare issues in the state, and as such, I feel that I am well-positioned to understand what is good and what is bad about healthcare in Utah. We do many things right with regards to healthcare. We continue to be able to treat patients with much less cost than other states, while still achieving the same outcomes. However, the overall approach to healthcare needs to be fixed. As long as we stay with a fee for a service model then costs will continue to go up.
I am the first college graduate in my family. I have been very fortunate to be able to help all five of my children get college degrees; two have Doctorates in Pharmacy and work in our family businesses. And I currently serve as Chair of the Higher Appropriations Committee, which oversees the budgets and direction of all of Utah's higher education institutions.
We are very fortunate to have two excellent schools of higher education in southern Utah with Dixie State College and SUU. These schools are cooperating very well together on a number of fronts and have different missions, which allow the students here in our area to have excellent higher education choices. They also are a big catalyst for economic development in southern Utah.
I am a product of the public school system in Beaver, and my kids have all gone through the public school system in Iron County. I continue to hear from a number of sources that the school districts in our area are among the best in the state. I have worked very hard to stay connected to the teachers and administrators in my senate district while serving in the Legislature. I understand and appreciate the role that charter schools play in our public school system and also meet with their faculties and representatives so that I know and understand what their needs are.
Over the past few years I have met with every school faculty in my district and most of them twice; getting their invaluable input and answering their questions. I also meet regularly with the rural superintendents at the Utah Capitol during the session.
I wish I could give education all the money they need, but as long as 70% of our state is in the control of the federal government, and as such cannot be developed and tax revenue drawn from that development, we will always have a funding issue with education. I appreciate just how careful and wise schools have been with the funding they receive and I will continue to fight for every needed dollar possible for education.