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2017 Legislative Session week 1

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Dear Friends and Neighbors –

This has been an amazing week. I am so honored to serve and represent you in the Utah House. It has been a whirlwind experience.

My lovely wife was able to join me on the opening day. I am grateful for her love and support. 

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The session began on Monday with a speech from Speaker Hughes where he outlined some of the hopes of the session. The Speaker also spoke about the recently-designated Bears Ears Monument as proof that the federal government clearly believes they are better stewards of the lands within our state than those families and individuals who have lived on and around those lands – taken care of them, worked on them – their entire lives. He expressed that Utah has become the ATM for political payback to special interest groups as Democrat presidents leave office.

He went on to speak about the state income tax reform under Governor Huntsman in 2007 that gave our state a flatter tax, allowed us to be more competitive with surrounding states and strengthened our economy. If we want more money for education, he pointed out, the very most important policy issue we can focus on is public lands. Those states that spend substantially more money on education aren’t left without 68 percent of their state’s lands to fund that system. We all need to realize that a successful fight for public lands ultimately leads to more education funding.

I wanted to give you an update on some of the bills I am running this session.

HB108 Teacher Salary Supplement – This bill is to help science and math teachers from both teachers in the teaching profession as well as professionals from the industry, and helps to qualify applying teachers to the supplement bonus of $4,100. The teachers qualify by their level of skills in their respected field. This increases the amount of teachers eligible for the supplement that should already be in place because of their teaching abilities and qualifications. This doesn’t just extend the supplement and increase the incentives for existing teachers, but also encourages professionals to bring their real life experience to the teaching field.

I am also developing a bill that doesn’t let the government pick winners and losers by granting massive tax incentive to a few selective companies and uses that tax incentive to lower taxes for all businesses.

You can follow along with us at le.utah.gov. You can listen to committee meetings, floor speeches and read the bills being debated.

Follow me on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/kaychristofferson.fiftysix

 

Kay

Bears Ears

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Yesterday President Obama created a new national monument in Utah.  This reckless decision to tie up land larger than Rhode Island is a travesty. This is an abuse of the Antiquities Act and Executive over-reach, and I agree with the sentiments of the Speaker and the Commission for the Stewardship of Federal Lands.

Kay

Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

 

Salt Lake City ­ Today, the Obama Administration used the Antiquities Act to declare Bears Ears area a national monument. Chairs and members of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands, Rep. Keven Stratton – Chair, Sen. David Hinkins – Chair, Rep. Mel Brown, Rep. Ken Ivory and Rep. Mike Noel, issued the following statement regarding the monument designation:

 “Like the unilateral tyranny exercised by the King of England against the American colonies two and a half centuries ago, our President has exercised an unconstitutional unilateral exercise of the Executive power to establish a monument greater in size than a number of the original thirteen states. Our children are the biggest losers and our Federal Executive Branch is well aware that this designation goes against the voice of the American Citizens living within the boarders of the State of Utah and an overwhelming super majority of those elected to represent them. This Bears Ears designation will not survive a constitutional review by our Judicial Branch and we pledge to take and support every lawful action available under the rule of law to overturn this act of repulsive political cronyism.”

Speaker Greg Hughes Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Salt Lake City ­ Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes issued the following statement regarding the Obama Administration using the Antiquities Act to declare 1.35 million acres of the Bears Ears area a national monument:

“We are truly disappointed that President Obama today chose to use the Antiquities Act to unilaterally declare a 1.35-million-acre Monument in Utah. The Antiquities Act, created by Teddy Roosevelt, was never intended to be used in this way and only the smallest area necessary for the purpose of protecting significant archaeological or historical sites is allowed. Not only is that clearly not the case here, but this administration has had no real conversations with those who will be affected by this designation, let alone any study of what “antiquities” they are attempting to protect.

Adding to a long list of executive actions that threaten the sovereignty of the states and the citizens of this nation to chart their own course, our president has chosen to once again subvert the will of the people. Earlier this month, nearly all elected officials who represent the area, from local to federal, assembled at the Utah State Capitol to plead with President Obama to resist the temptation to grant these types of political favors. This action betrays the interests of Utahns, stands in the way of better stewardship of the land we all love and cherish and ultimately amounts to a blatant federal land grab.

Our democratic republic is designed to be most effective and accountable when major decisions are made closest to the people but President Obama has chosen to circumvent all democratic processes and lock up nearly one and a half million acres of land from use based solely on ideological principles.

Nearly 70 percent of Utah is under federal management and control and 90 percent of our population lives on just 1 percent of our ground. Nothing about this is even remotely reasonable, and that is why we in the Utah Legislature have been pushing back for decades. This designation makes that effort even more important and we will do everything within our power to seek to overturn this action once President Obama leaves office next month.”

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Week 1 – 2016 Legislative Session

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Week 1 – 2016 Legislative Session

The Legislature is off to a great start as members of both the House of Representatives and Senate have rolled up their sleeves and gotten to work. In fact, with a full reading calendar meant for two days worth of work, the House was able to adjourn early after getting through every one of the bills posted.
These bills were debated, voted on and passed out of interim committees since the end of the last Legislative Session, and rather than adding to current code, many were repealing language that was confusing or unclear in the law. Every one of the bills considered and passed today came out of an interim committee with unanimous, bipartisan support and no fiscal note.
We accomplished many major reforms during the 2015 General Session and the work that our interim committees did over the past year has allowed us to start off with a momentum that should lead to another successful session. Click here to watch the full video.

Internet Sales Tax

I want to hear from you on this issue.  Please read through this information and e-mail me back your thoughts on a sales tax on internet purchases.
A proposal gaining support in many states across the country is a law requiring the collection of sales tax by the merchant, at the specific tax rate where the buyer lives, for all purchases on the internet or by mail order. Marketplace fairness legislation has already passed in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington. Utah is among the states looking at options to reclaim the lost revenue that currently is required to be paid by the consumer, but seldom is.
Justice Kennedy has said that a previous Supreme Court decision, in Quill Corp v. North Dakota,  “ . . . now harms states to a degree far greater than could have been anticipated earlier,” finding that Congress needed to act to allow state collection of the sales and use tax. Congress has failed to act, in which case it is incumbent on states, as sovereign entities, to exercise their constitutional right to act.
Under current law, sales and use tax is already required on all sales but if a Utah resident doesn’t pay the tax at the time of purchase, it must be remitted when filing their Utah income tax return. Unfortunately, few people actually do this, leading to an estimated $190 million uncollected this year. Art Laffer has estimated that Marketplace Fairness legislation would lead to the creation of 16,961 new jobs in the state and an increased state GDP of $5.2 billion by 2022.
Unless we address this issue, we can expect to see problems in adequately supporting our public universities and transportation needs, as both are partially funded through the sales tax.
Right now, over 2,700 businesses in more than 4,300 taxing jurisdictions are using free software that allows them to collect those taxes and dozens of software and web applications exist to easily, quickly and affordably calculate, collect and remit the sales tax for these online purchases.
Rep. Mike McKell will be running Marketplace Fairness legislation this year that allows the state to require online retailers who do business in Utah to comply with our tax law. It will require the State of Utah to reduce the state sales tax rate when the collection of remote sales tax begins, which will lead to revenue neutrality. The Utah Taxpayers Association has publicly declared support for a Utah solution that is revenue neutral.
This legislation will allow both businesses and consumers to more easily comply with existing law, it will extend a tax break to all — even those buying locally — and it will treat all businesses, consumers and transactions equally.

   

House Guests

Utah House of Representatives welcomed Congressman Chris Stewart and Congressman Rob Bishop. Congressman Stewart discussed three issues the United States faces: economic growth, national debt and national security. Click here to watch his remarks, it starts at 13 minutes. Congressman Bishop and former Utah Speaker of the House discussed public lands and military during his visit to the House. Click here to watch his remarks, it starts at 42 minutes.

Public Lands

The Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands announced key findings from a comprehensive legal analysis performed by legal scholars and practicing attorneys from across the country. These experts conducted a rigorous objective legal analysis to determine if there are legitimate legal precedents and historical principles for the State of Utah to challenge the federal government’s permanent ownership of the majority of the land within the State. The conclusion of the legal analysis is that compelling legal basis does exist for the State of Utah to challenge federal ownership of public lands in the state. The findings identify three primary legal theories as having merit:

1. The Equal Sovereignty Principle, which mandates that the States in the U.S. Federal system be equal in sovereignty with one another.

2. The closely related Equal Footing Doctrine, which requires that States admitted to the U.S. subsequent to the 13 original colonies should receive all sovereign rights enjoyed by previously existing states in the U.S., including the right to control land within their borders.

3. The Compact Theory, which posits that Utah’s acceptance of admission into the U.S. entailed explicit and implicit promises that the federal government would “timely dispose” of public lands in Utah’s borders, as it had done with the states admitted prior to Utah.
You can also see more on this by watching Speaker Hughes’ address at the Heritage Foundation.

2016 Legislative Session – Committees

I serve on the following committees in the Legislature:

  • Public Utilities and Technology
  • Transportation
  • Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Appropriations Subcommittee – Vice-Chair

It is a pleasure to serve you in the Legislature.  Please let me know which issues are important to you.

Kay

Representative Kay Christofferson
Utah House of Representatives | District 56

2014 Week 3 Legislative Update

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We’re wrapping up week three of the 2014 legislative session here on the hill. This week we continued to meet in appropriations and standing committees, as well as debate House and Senate bills on the House floor. We spent time discussing the Utah School Readiness Initiative (HB 96), election laws (HB282), and a variety of other bills, including HB 283, a bill that enacts the Nonprofit Entity Receipt of State Money Act.

President Abraham Lincoln came and visited us and delivered a timely message.

The House honored former Representative Howard Nielson, Utah.

This last week the House of Representatives voted on HB 96 – “Utah School Readiness Initiative”  

It was a bill that attracted a lot of attention.  I received close to 300 emails, for and against this bill.  I also spoke with many people about the details of the bill and the pros and cons.  We debated the bill on the House floor for over an hour and amended it to improve the language.  The vote was 49 for and 24 against with 2 who did not vote.  As I read and studied the bill the following points stood out to me:

  • The bill is a free-market approach to solving a problem in the school system.  I have been working to get free-market forces to drive quality, service and cost reductions in government agencies and operations.  This was part of my campaign platform.  I think this program is a way to solve a problem privately, that has not been met yet in the schools.
  • It is a post-performance payment.  This means that the private company is at risk for the results and will not be paid if they don’t reach the objectives.   These companies are motivated to be successful.
  • It is voluntary.  At the parents will, the student may be enrolled or not.
  • The bill will not cost more to the taxpayers.  The money that is used is paid from the savings that are currently being used by Special Educations programs.  It may even save money for the State – worst case, it will be cost-neutral.
  • It results in improved performance.  Many school kids are falling behind and have a tough time in their first years of grade school.  This approach has been tried in other schools and has been successful.  Weber State University, Utah State University and Brigham Young University all sent letters supporting this kind of educational opportunity for those who are from low-income and high-risk homes.   Weber & BYU have developed tests to identify students who would likely be at risk and need remedial help in the future.
  • The program is adapted to any school model.  It can be used in home schools, private schools, charter schools as well as traditional public school settings.

I understand that there are risks in any program.  Some of you mentioned that it is similar to the Head Start Program and why do we need another program?  I look at it as less expensive to the State because if the students don’t improve their performance, as expected, the provider of the program doesn’t get paid.  I’m sure there may be some adjustments as the program develops.

HB 96 has been passed by the House but still has to be vetted by the Senate.  If there are concerns with areas of the bill it can still be amended before being voted on.  Please let me know if you can recommend other changes to the bill that would improve it.  I am more than happy to pass information on to the Senate as they vet the bill.  Also, please let Senators Madsen and Valentine know your thoughts.

H.B. 275 – Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day

 

Vietnam War Veterans being honored in the Utah House of Representatives Gallery.

This week the Utah House passed a bill that designates March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day. Representative Oda sponsored the bill in an effort to honor those that served in the Vietnam War by creating a day in which all Utahns could show their gratitude for the Veterans’ sacrifice.


I was also able to celebrate the birth of my grandson, Tyce.  He has an infection and is currently in the NCIU but is improving fast.  He should be home this weekend.

Be sure to contact me with any questions comments, or concerns. Your feedback and participation is always welcome.

Representative Kay Christofferson
Utah House of Representatives | District 56

2014 Week 2 Legislative Update

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The start of our second week here on Utah’s Capitol Hill was met with hard work as our appropriations subcommittees continued to meet diligently and discuss the budget. These subcommittees reviewed state departments, audits, and spending, and then brought forward a base budget. The base budget is presented in bill form and is essentially a guideline for spending for the year. The legislature continues to keep Utah fiscally responsible by balancing the budget every year.

This session, the legislature will introduce a solution that has been years in the making. By consolidating the 9-1-1-system across the state of Utah, we hope to ensure every Utahn will receive the best possible emergency response. Reforming the dispatch system will eliminate confusion, save money, shrink emergency response times and save lives.

Later in the week the Utah House of Representatives had the privilege of honoring fallen Sgt. Derek Johnson and his family with a citation on the House floor. As legislators, and as Utahns, we are grateful for the sacrifices law enforcement members and their families make every day.

 (Honoring the Johnson Family)

Federal Land
I am passionate about Utah getting access to federal lands.  This week we heard from Senator Orrin Hatch and I asked him about getting control of our lands.  The following is from KSL.com:

Hatch also talked about his support for the state’s push to get the federal government to turn over the two-thirds of the state under Washington’s control after being asked about the issue by Rep. Kay Christofferson, R-Lehi.

“We’re not treated fairly,” Hatch said, describing himself as one of the original “Sagebrush Rebels” from a similar effort decades ago. “We were being treated even worse than we are today. I’ve got a long history of being on your side.”

We also took a day to meet with the Fire Caucus – it was nice to spend some time with firefighters from District 56.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you regarding any questions, comments, or concerns.

Representative Kay Christofferson
Utah House of Representatives | District 56

Amazing standard post

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