Local lawmakers look to 2021Jan 04, 2021 09:42AM ● By Becky Ginos
BOUNTIFUL—With the start of a new year, Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful and Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross took a moment to reflect on what they hope lies ahead in 2021.
“I want to get back to normal,” said Ward. “With the roll out of the vaccine I hope that makes a difference, especially for teachers. It’s so hard at schools. I’ll feel better if they’re vaccinated so we don’t have to have kids out so much.”
When case numbers and hospitalizations go down, we’ll all let out a sigh of relief, he said. “But for my older patients they’ve been locked in their homes, they won’t go out and they can’t see their families. We need to get the vaccine to them so they can do normal things and keep them healthy and happy.”
Getting through this economy has been tough, he said. “The injury of that will last longer even after the virus goes away. The federal stimulus really helped when we thought it would be gone by fall, instead the numbers don’t look better they look worse and worse. We can cross our fingers and grind our teeth about the economy but it’s really important to pass another federal stimulus. The basic idea of stimulus is to put money back into the economy, so it doesn’t take a bad turn.”
Ward said he hopes those who are high risk can get the vaccine so that in the next few weeks those who want it can get it. “I think with the vaccine we’ll see things getting better and better. My two big things in 2021 are the economy and getting schools functioning.”
Weiler said he’s hoping for a return to normalcy as well. “Obviously there were three big things in 2020, Trump, COVID and the earthquake. There’s not much we can do about the earthquake but in 2021, we’ll see ex-president Trump and vaccinations continue to grow every month.”
He said personally he wants to look backward. “I’m grateful overall that we’ve survived pretty well. The legislature will have a lot more money to spend because we cut back in the spring. The economy keeps chugging along and is better than expected. I do wish I had bought stock in Zoom and Amazon.”
It’s been hard not being able to do all the usual things, he said. “I miss summer barbecues, going to shows at the Hale theater, baseball games and Jazz games. It’s like when a toilet, refrigerator or car breaks down you don’t think about it until you need them. You take something for granted until it’s gone.”
Weiler said it will probably take about two years to get everyone vaccinated. “But if we can get the most vulnerable vaccinated, we’ll see a return to normalcy.”
Rep. Melissa Garff Ballard shares her thoughts about the new year
2021 brings the hope of a new day and new year in the legislature. 2020 brought us to Jumanji level 9 with a pandemic, lockdowns, earthquake, fires, floods, hurricane force winds, volcanic eruptions, a severe shock to our economy, and an unprecedented six special sessions in the legislature. We have all learned how to do things differently. As much as it feels like everything has slowed down, the world is accelerating with Zoom and team meetings bringing us together without the time and cost of traveling.
I look forward to the 2021 legislative session. The passage of Amendment G allows Utah funds for education and services to be planned and ensure funding for growth in the future. I anticipate we will focus on COVID relief for businesses and families with stimulus and/or tax breaks. Improving our air quality has become crucial and will be included in a handful of priorities including my bill for hydrogen tax credit parity and funding for replacing diesel applications with hydrogen applications, like generators and busses. Determining authority between the governor and the health department for deciding “lockdown” or “staying open” policies during pandemics will be formalized. We should see some Investment in transportation projects, which is good for Utah jobs and a fluid economy.
We are fortunate in Utah. Decades of legislative policy for maintaining a balanced budget and planning for the future has led to a culture of setting aside “rainy-day funds” and reduced taxes. Utah has had the #1 economy in the nation for 13 years running https://www.richstatespoorstates.org/states/UT/ It is the responsibility of the legislature to continue using our tax dollars wisely, reduce government spending, and provide support for our families in these challenging times.
Here’s to a new year!
Melissa Garff Ballard
Utah House District 20