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Davis Journal

State’s tax surplus, flag topics at town hall

Jan 20, 2023 11:19AM ● By Becky Ginos

Rep. Paul Cutler, R-Centerville (right) and Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, talk to a resident after a town hall meeting last week. Together with Reps. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful and Melissa Ballard, R-North Salt Lake the legislators listened and responded to residents’ concerns. Photo by Becky Ginos

WEST BOUNTIFUL—A large crowd gathered at the West Bountiful City Hall last week for a legislative town hall hosted by local lawmakers Reps. Ray Ward, Melissa Ballard, Paul Cutler and Sen. Todd Weiler. Each legislator took a few minutes to explain bills they are running and then opened it up to questions from the audience. 

“I have a couple of things,” said Weiler. “First is when police respond to a domestic violence situation they will be required to perform a lethality assessment protocol where they find out if they’ve (offender) threatened to kill them before, if there are weapons in the house, etc. Then the police can connect them with social services or whatever they need.”

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson’s niece was killed in a domestic violence situation, he said. “If this had happened she believes it could have saved her life.”

Weiler is also running a bill to create a database that the police can use to see the history of the offender in a domestic violence situation. “Pharmacists have a database that if there is something that is suspicious they can run through the prescription,” he said. “When the police respond they have no idea if the offender has been involved before. With this they can pull up the last 10 days and see if there has been a problem. It’s crucial for our officers to know.”

With Deidre’s niece the police had been called several times before when he killed her, said Weiler. “Gaby Petito’s parents support the bill and will testify when it goes before the legislature. They think it could have saved their daughter.”

Cutler is new to the legislature so this will be his first session. He is also running a bill dealing with domestic violence issues. “It’s firearms safety,” he said. “If there is an incident with an owner of a gun a cohabitant can turn over the gun to the officer for safe keeping. They keep it for a while until things cool down. If someone is arrested for domestic violence they can’t get the gun back until they’ve satisfied their sentence or a jail agreement.”

Ward is a physician and has several bills dealing with healthcare. “When patients get labs or other tests then go to a different doctor those records are not available to them at a different location,” he said. “They’re their own personal medical records. This bill would make it possible to share the information so for example in Davis County any of the four hospitals could get it.”

Ballard is passionate about education and is running several bills involving that. She’s also working to get education into the correctional system. “I want inmates to get the opportunity for education as soon as possible,” she said. “It can provide hope and make a change in their lives so that they don’t return to the streets.”

An audience member asked what they thought about changing the state flag. “I’m proud of the state flag,” said Weiler. “But when it’s backwards it shouldn’t say hatu. That’s Utah backwards. An updated, energized flag is not a bad idea.”

“Most of my constituents don’t want it to change,” said Ward. “Messaging (on T-shirts, etc.) was not what was important to them.”

A resident asked them to poll the audience by standing up for or against the change and those against won out. “Personally I like the new flag,” said Ballard. “It’s more modern. People are very opinionated about it. Utahns love Utah and they’ll be behind it whatever they get.”

Another audience member asked what their plan was for spending the state’s tax surplus. “The plan is to address the budget as a whole,” said Ward. “In the end we have to balance the budget no matter what.”

Some will go to water conservation and the Great Salt Lake, he said. “It will go to pay teachers, police workforce and other services and there will be a tax cut in the mix as well.”

“We didn’t use the money last year or the year before that,” Weiler said. “We have a rainy day fund whether there is a recession or not this year – 2008 was devastating to the state.” 

“During COVID New York went $62 billion in the hole,” said Ballard. “Utah was in surplus. There’s never enough money to fund every ask.”

Cutler said he’s been impressed with the welcoming attitude he’s received from the other legislators. “We might disagree but you have to separate the people from the problem and come together. Let’s focus on the future rather than the sins of the past.”