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Town hall covers topics including police scholarships, education

Apr 03, 2017 10:46AM ● Published by Travis Barton

Utah State Sen. Karen Mayne, Utah State Rep. Karen Kwan and Utah State Rep. Elizabeth Weight listen to one resident as she speaks. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

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By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

With the legislative session wrapping up on March 9, Utah State Senator Karen Mayne along with Utah State Representatives Karen Kwan and Elizabeth Weight spent a night on Feb. 23 with citizens answering questions and reporting on bills being worked on.

During this legislative session Mayne said she was working to secure a $200,000 scholarship fund for public safety officers to reimburse them for taking higher education classes in pursuit of associate’s, bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees. She said this will help keep officers here in West Valley.

“My vision is to have them [police officers] cemented in their occupation that they can’t go anywhere else. For that we get a better seasoned professional officer and then they’ll make more money,” Mayne told almost three dozen in attendance.

Mayne, who represents areas in West Valley City, Taylorsville and Kearns, said the Senate shares the wealth so she is able to secure funding every year for needed projects in her areas. One project, which will see sidewalks built near Hillsdale Elementary, is set to be constructed this summer.

Car safety inspections

A portion of the night’s discussion centered around three survey questions Mayne asked of her constituents the previous week. One question regarded HB265 which would repeal the requirement for privately owned vehicles to get a safety inspection certificate.

The bill passed 45-29 in the House of Representatives, before heading to the Senate. If passed, car safety inspections would not be required by the state. Utah is one of 16 left in the country to require it.

“This is kind of a national movement for deregulation,” Mayne, who does not support the bill, said. “I want to deregulate things that are not harmful. I think if it’s harmful to anyone, if it does harm, it should be regulated and licensed.”

Kwan said there was lots of research shown on both sides. She said a woman testified about a failed test due to a crack along the bottom of her windshield and how, as a single mom, it placed stress on her family finances.

The opposition points to cars that people may drive until mufflers or tires fall off thus placing other vehicles on the road in danger.

Education

One resident raised a question regarding apprenticeship programs in high schools as a way to deter dropouts and encourage students learning trade skills.

The resident, a contractor, said he thinks schools could be teaching effective items like building codes. He said trade unions would be happy to teach those types of classes. He added he can’t find quality masons for work even though they make $30 an hour.

“All you’d have to do is allow [students] to opt into apprenticeship programs through the high school and allow that for credit so they can get a diploma out of it,” the contractor said.

He went on to say that he doesn’t know anyone in his profession who cares about SAGE testing done by schools, but contractors care about high school diplomas.

Weight said the needle is moving in that direction. Mayne agreed noting the growth around the valley.

“We are building and we don’t have skilled people that can put a plug in,” Mayne said.

Another resident said he feels for the high schools since they are graded on math and English scores that get put in newspapers.

“They’re double blocking math and English, which gives less time to take these elective courses that might be better for their career down the road, but it’s not better for the school and newspaper,” said the resident.

Gun issues

HB198 came up when a resident voiced his concern about the bill that would allow a concealed carry license for individuals 18 and older.

The bill passed in the house 63-12 with Kwan and Weight both voting against. Mayne comes from a hunting family where she has granddaughters who hunt geese and ducks as 12-year-olds. They’re trained, she said, and reiterated her feeling that anything that causes harm should be licensed.

One resident said he’s fine with concealed weapons but is concerned about a cultural return to the Old West days.

Weight said she heard the same thing in the committees she serves in.

“There is a climate of friction and tension and bias and profiling and racism and its raised the level of concern about whose going to be the victim,” Weight said.

Towards the end of the meeting, West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow stood up to tell residents he hopes they’re appreciative of the efforts of these elected officials.

“Utah is well represented. If you talk to these officials, you see that they are reasonable, sincere, they come and talk to people. Most elected officials here fall into that category, Democrat or Republican,” Bigelow said. “They represent the people the best they can and to those who are willing to put themselves out there, thank you.”

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