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Davis Journal

Freshman legislator finishes strong

Mar 09, 2023 02:04PM ● By Becky Ginos

Rep. Paul Cutler sits on the House floor during the 2023 Legislative Session. This was Cutler’s first term as a legislator. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

SALT LAKE CITY—It might have been his first legislative session but Rep. Paul Cutler, R-Centerville, came away feeling positive about the experience. The former Centerville mayor ran six bills and four passed. Not bad for a beginner.

“It’s been thrilling, fascinating, frustrating and at times exhausting,” said Cutler. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount. There are many good people who are trying to do what’s best for the state.”

Cutler said it was a great opportunity to learn as a new legislator. “I made some mistakes because I didn’t know how to use the process. I wish I could do more to help people.”

Other legislators were so helpful, he said. “Our current south Davis representatives, Melissa Ballard, Todd Weiler and Ray Ward were incredibly helpful and showed me how I could make a difference.”

There were two bills he ran that Cutler said he really enjoyed. “I worked very hard on a domestic violence bill (HB199) for the safety of domestic violence victims. I had to balance between the right to bear arms and the need to protect the most vulnerable in society. That passed.”

The other one is HB470 that puts guidelines in place for digital records and the need for government records to keep up, he said. “People want to make sure their information is safe and secure and that people don’t have access to it. The bill sets up a group that will report next year to the legislature on standard guidelines for digital records.”

Cutler sat on the IGG (Infrastructure and General Government) Appropriations Subcommittee and Political Subdivisions Subcommittee. “In the IGG we dealt with transportation, improvement on government facilities and we heard plans to set up a permanent campus for Weber State University in Farmington. WSU rents a space at Station Park now. They want to build a new campus with permanent buildings near Station Park.”

The Speaker makes the assignments, he said. “I’m on the Political Subdivisions Subcommittee because I previously served in a municipality. I was the mayor and on the city council. It helps to know how the state works with counties and cities. There’s been a lot of interesting bills that deal with city recorders, the county sheriffs and how local and state governments work together.”

Cutler said some of the highlights of the session were bills that were widely reported. “We had record funding for education for public schools and at the same time provided options with the ‘Utah fits all’ scholarship. We spent a record amount on infrastructure and optimizing our water resources.”

A tax cut was one of the biggest issues, he said. “Part of the package was to benefit every Utah family. Everyone will receive some kind of tax break. It’s the biggest in Utah’s history.”

It wasn’t all work during the 45-day session though. “The rural legislators are really fun,” said Cutler. “The funnest part of the session was called the ‘silly bill’ that would designate the state mushroom. Rep. Scott Chew asked to remove the word mushroom and replace it with mustache – making fun of his mustache.”

Several of the legislators started growing beards during the session, Cutler said. “On the last night at the dinner they had shaved their beards and left really horrible looking mustaches.”

That’s what’s great about Utah State legislators, he said. “We can have different opinions but we know each other, we’re friends and respect each other. We can have policy differences but it’s not personal. Because we consider each other as friends, it’s easier to work across the aisle. You can disagree with someone on a policy without attacking them personally.”

Utah has one of the shortest sessions in the country at 45 days, said Cutler. “It allows us to focus on what’s most important and not get distracted by other issues.”

Cutler said having gone through one session he’ll be better prepared next time. “It’s been a great opportunity to serve. I’m so honored. It’s a privilege to represent the good families of Davis County.”