Allen Christensen (R) – Incumbent
October 11, 2012
1. Please describe your background and what has prepared you to serve in the elected office you seek?
I have served my community as a city councilman for 8 years, worked in Boy Scouts for 20 years, served on county boards for over 20 years and served as State Senator for 8 years. I am a pediatric dentist which has helped me tremendously with the Health and Human Services committees which I chair.
2. Earlier this year the Utah Legislature approved S.B. 64, a measure that ties teachers’ compensation to their students’ performance. Do you support that concept, why or why not? Also, do you feel that the Legislature does or does not do enough to support funding for education?
Tying the compensation to student performance was just one of the criteria to help determine compensation. By itself, it would be a poor indicator of teacher performance and would create a host of problems. There were several other criteria included in the bill which attempts to financially reward outstanding teachers and keep them in the profession.
I supported the bill on a trial basis while we see if it is indeed possible to grade teacher performance.
No, we do not do enough to financially support education. That being said, we do all we can within the budget that we have without raising taxes. Utah ranks among the top dozen states in the percent of our state budget that goes to education. We will continue to give over half of our growth dollars to education but it will continue not to be enough.
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3. Do you believe state agencies are too lax or too stringent about enforcing air and water quality standards? If elected would you advocate more or less regulation of industrial emissions?
Air quality standards in Utah are quite stiff. Industrial emissions account for only a small percentage of the total emissions. Vehicles are the biggest part of the problem. We will continue to work toward cleaner options in all possible areas.
4. The Utah Legislature has tried to address ethics reform, including measures to ensure lawmakers are not unduly influenced by contributors. Do you think those efforts have been adequate or do you think additional ethics reform is necessary? Also, what is your personal policy regarding campaign contributions?
I am the Senate Ethics chairman and have worked to make the legislature more separated from conflicts of interest from contributors and lobbyists. Large contributions certainly have the appearance of a conflict of interest. Personally, a week or two after receiving a political contribution I don’t remember just where the money came from.
5. Last year, lawmakers passed House Bill 363, a Health Education Amendment that would have severely curtailed what could be taught in sex education classes. The bill was eventually vetoed by the governor. Some said the bill was representative of a trend toward more values-oriented legislation. Do you think that is a fair characterization and, if so, is that an appropriate role for state lawmakers?
I certainly hope so! I think I am elected because of the values I hold personally. Sometimes, however, we apply those values with an uneven hand and HB363 went a little too far. The values pendulum swings both ways and when we abandon too many of our traditional values we will certainly lose our way.
6. In its last session the Utah Legislature passed H.B. 148, the Transfer of Public Lands Act, which demands the transfer of about 20 million acres of federally owned land to the state. That land could then be sold or leased for commercial uses. Do you support or oppose that bill and why?
It can now be sold or leased for commercial uses, however, it is the federal government that holds the ‘say-so’. I supported the bill and still think that we, in Utah, can manage our lands better than someone thousands of miles away in D.C. It is a precious resource and must be managed in the most efficient, multiple-use way.
7. Like many states, Utah has tried its hand at enacting its own immigration laws. In recent years, lawmakers have passed (and then rescinded) in-state college tuition discounts for undocumented students who attended high school in the state. They have offered and then discontinued driver permits and have debated legislation that would give local law enforcement officers the ability to determine a person’s immigration status. Where do you stand on those specific issues?
Significant immigration reform must be enacted by the federal government soon or it will be too late. The states have a very limited ability to make any real changes in the laws. Hopefully the feds will act soon. In-state tuition is a catch-22. You get an education which is good, but then you can’t legally work here. Drivers permits are one way to register and keep track of illegals while making it possible for them to be insured while they drive. No license does not mean they won’t drive, it just increases the problems for those around them. Police ability to determine legal status — well the problem is in the details. How do they do it, and when. If they stop every ‘foreigner’ to see if they are legal, that sounds like Eastern bloc countries and not my beloved free America.
8. Please differentiate your platform from that of your opponent.
Easy, my opponents think that government can solve any and all problems by creating another bureaucracy and spending money they don’t have while doing it. I believe that too much government is the problem and that free enterprise and less government is the solution. We need to reign in big government programs and allow them to spend only the money they have and not that which they wish they had. The Republican platform as a whole expresses my beliefs.