The sun has set on the first day of the 2020 General Legislative Session, and local legislators are sharing what to watch in the next 44 days of lawmaking.
There are 900 bill files to look over, the second-highest number of official bill requests to date. And while individual representatives have their own focuses and priorities, there are a few overarching topics that drew the attention of all of the legislators.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Cache County, said he expects the Tax Reform Bill to be repealed on Tuesday and it should take another two or three sessions to work out a new tax reformation to fit the needs of the state.
“It is easy to criticize any problem you want but what we need is not criticism, it is suggestions,” said Hillyard, the sponsor of the contested tax bill.
In a public meeting with local legislators on Saturday morning, Cache County Sen. Scott Sandall congratulated those who have spent the last several weeks gathering signatures in support of the tax referendum.
“However, we still see an imbalance between sales tax and income tax,” Sandall said. “It is very apparent that repeal is what we should do right now, but we still have a problem in front of us. We are going to have to link arms, we are going to have to listen, talk and fix it.”
He said that while it is important to find the path to fix the problem, the focus needs to shift now to this session.
One of the major topics that will be discussed during this legislative session is the impact of vaping on teens.
Vaping has been brought up in close to 20 committee meetings in just the last six months and legislators will navigate the issue over the coming weeks.
“You find that the advocates of vaping will say it helps people stop smoking,” Sandall said, “but some of the results that I am seeing is that you have more young people thinking that it is harmless, then moving onto a tobacco product rather than people moving in the opposite direction.”
The conversations so far have been about the taxation of vape products and the ease of access.
Lawmakers will also consider legislation regarding suicide prevention and mental health.
“Suicide prevention is important in schools,” Hillyard said. “We have done some things with it in the past year and I have been pleased to see a reduction. But suicide is not just a problem in schools.”
Hillyard said that is the challenge because the funding for those programs are critical and they will take priority but because of the budget, there will have to be a give and take with other bills that address things such as new roads.
Cache Valley legislators will be hosting town hall meetings every Saturday morning during the 2020 Legislative General Session, starting on Jan. 25 through March 7. The meetings will go from 7:30 — 9 a.m. at the Historic Cache County Courthouse, 199 Main St., Logan.