Brian King (D) – Utah House Dist. 28
Brian King (Democrat)
Utah House of Representatives District 28
Editor’s note: Rep. King is running unopposed.
What are your qualifications to run for a seat in the state house and why do you want to serve?
I have served in the legislature for three terms and hope for election for a fourth. I am on the Judiciary, Revenue and Taxation, and Ethics standing committees. I also serve on the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, the Federalism Commission, the Constitutional Defense Council, and as the Chair of the Judicial Conduct Commission. In my regular occupation, I have practiced law for over 25 years and represent individuals whose life, health, and disability claims have been denied by insurance companies.
Alison and I have been married more than 30 years and have four daughters. Our legislative priorities are most clearly revealed in the things on which we choose to spend taxpayer funds. I want to serve to provide greater resources for public and higher education in Utah. Our future economic development, the ability of our children to
compete successfully in the world, and our quality of life depends on prioritizing public and higher education much more than we currently do. I also want to continue and accelerate our efforts to clean up our air along the Wasatch Front and protect and enhance the quality of our public lands.
The state is actively trying to reinstate its ban on same-sex marriage. Where do you stand on this issue?
In my roles as lawyer and legislator, I’ve taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. The question of whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry is a legal issue rather than a moral or religious issue. As a matter of constitutional law, the question is becoming very clear. Regardless of how one feels about same sex behavior as a religious matter, that is not, and should never be, a substitute for the legal analysis that is necessary when evaluating whether a law violates the Equal Protection or Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution. I do not support Utah spending any more taxpayer money fighting to sustain the right to enforce unconstitutional laws that unfairly discriminate against lesbians and gays.
Recently, there have been clashes over the use of public lands, with some saying the federal government has overstepped its powers. How do you feel about those complaints and should the state pursue efforts to take back lands currently under federal jurisdiction.
There are, and will continue to be, ways in which the federal government falls short in how it manages public lands and coordinates its efforts with state and local officials. We need to ensure our federal partners live up to their obligations under state and federal law. However, those who believe we have a claim to "take back" lands they claim were originally held by the state are simply barking up the wrong tree. Their legal theory is fundamentally flawed.
It is a waste of time and taxpayer money to issue ultimatums to the federal government and try to enforce defective legal theories. What we need is a recommitment by the legislature to working effectively in collaborative fashion with our federal partners in managing public lands to allow for their highest levels of preservation, protection, and enhanced multiple uses.
Is the state legislature doing as much as it can to fund education? If not what specific policy would you propose to increase funding for schools.
No. We can and must do more. I have sponsored two bills in past sessions to increase funding for public education. The first would introduce progressivity into our state income tax structure by increasing the marginal tax rate from 5% to 6% for income between $250,000 and $1,000,000 and from 6% of 7% for income above $1,000,000. This change, requiring those who are doing the best financially to step up to the plate and provide more funding for education, would raise approximately $200,000,000 more in revenue specifically for public and higher education each year.
The second bill would increase the severance tax on oil and natural gas to levels in line with rates for neighboring states. For too long we have allowed industries that extract these non-renewable resources from Utah lands to pay far less than surrounding states assess. All the funds from this bill would be used for public education.
The legislature has the power to incentivize or discourage various types of energy production. How do you feel about current state policies regarding oil and gas production versus the development of alternative energy resources.
Wise energy policies recognize that both renewable and non-renewable energy sources play important roles in Utah’s energy future. Our current policies are too skewed toward non-renewable sources (oil, natural gas, and coal) and are too hostile to renewable sources (solar, wind, and hydro).
We can increase oil and natural gas production so long as we protect the environment and public lands while doing so. We can develop cleaner ways of consuming coal and, in so doing, ensure we improve our air quality. We can invest in solar and wind energy to a greater extent using excellent private and public land resources that are well suited for these renewable resources. Each of these investments promotes good energy policy and contributes to economic development in our state.
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Court report: Week of June 22