January 1, 2013

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2013 Legislative Preview

Big Challenges Await Utah’s Lawmakers

LaVarr Webb

January 1, 2013

Public Transit. Mountain transportation is receiving significant interest as a way to get tourists and Utah residents to ski resorts with less traffic congestion, cleaner air and less impact on the environment. Proponents say Utah could have the best mountain transportation system in the country, rivaling systems in Europe. Skiers and tourists could get on a train at the airport and be delivered right to the ski lift. Utah’s ski and tourism industries would leapfrog past Denver and regional competitors.

Energy. Utah faces an historic opportunity to boost jobs, improve the state’s economy, and increase tax and school revenues by accelerating development of Utah’s enormous energy resources in the Uintah Basin. Energy revenue, especially on school trust lands, could make a significant difference in education funding. But many barriers exist to realizing the full potential of energy development, including federal land restrictions, air quality, endangered species, water shortages, qualified workforce, transportation, housing and potential environmental lawsuits

Election System Reform. Sentiment exists among many mainstream Republicans and Democrats to provide an alternative route for candidates to get on the primary election ballot. The concern is that the current caucus/convention system allows too much control of the political process by small-but-passionate groups on either side of the political spectrum.

Federal Relations. Utah will continue to have a contentious relationship with the federal government, as federal agencies impose more regulations in healthcare and public lands. Watch for lawmakers to continue to push back.

LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and publisher of UtahPolicy.com.

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