Christine Johnson, Democrat
October 23, 2008
1. The two entryways into Park City, S.R. 224 and S.R. 248, are state-managed highways under stress from traffic increases, with backups along S.R. 248 being especially worrisome to officials in Park City and Summit County and commuters. Please talk about your preferred solutions to the two entryways, with particular attention to measures that could reduce congestion on S.R. 248.
1. As Park City has become more desirable to residents who commute to downtown Salt Lake City for employment, traffic congestion has increased travel hazard, delayed transit time and thus an unnecessary contributor of carbon and particulate matter to already dangerous air-quality. Mass transit is clearly the answer, and as state-owned corridors, the responsibility partially falls upon the state to provide the solutions as well as the traveler to ride-share and make a commitment to public transportation. A public/private partnership is the solution. With the completion of the TRAX station in Sugarhouse, I ideally envision state subsidized park and rides near S.R. 224 and 228 to get people of out their cars and on to mass transit. This will also provide opportunities for those working lower wage jobs within the travel and tourism industry to occupy more affordable housing outside Summit County while affordably commuting to Park City.
2. Utah has attracted significant numbers of immigrants in the last decade, with many coming to the state from Mexico. Please discuss what public benefits they should receive, including your opinion about whether immigrants should be eligible for tuition breaks that other Utahns receive at state-run colleges and universities and driver permits.
2. Plain and simply, immigration is a matter for Federal regulation. I do not believe states should interfere by imposing regulation of immigration by health administrators, peace officers or citizens. Consequently, I voted against SB81 and have great concern over the outcome of the Immigration Task Force established by the Utah Legislature in 2008. In-state tuition is based upon state residency and NOT citizenship. I did not support legislation to revoke in-state tuition. If an individual is eligible for in-state tuition, they contribute tax dollars used for higher-education funding and are as deserving as any state resident to apply and make use of that tuition reduction.
3. The economy of Park City and surrounding Summit County relies heavily on tourism, with winter being especially lucrative and summer becoming busier. Please discuss the Statehouse’s role in boosting tourism to Utah, and whether state funding for tourism is at an appropriate level. Do you propose any new tourism programs?
3. Utah appropriates monies each year for advertising, educating and inviting guests to travel our over 40 state parks, ski resorts, fairs, historic sites and support our arts. We are well-aware that every dollar spent on tourism generates far more revenue than our initial investment and is money well-spent. In addition to appropriations, creating more friendly liquor laws will improve our public perception regarding our hospitality. Personally, I have sponsored and will sponsor again in 2008 modifications to our home-brewing laws to remove the technical violation of making alcohol at home. This legislation has received National attention and has stimulated interest in home-brewing, resulting in a near 60% increase in home-brew supplies. Most importantly, though not frequently addressed, is a much needed, strenuous effort to control climate change to ensure that we keep our reputation as having the best snow on earth!
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4. Legislators after Census 2010 will redraw district boundaries for the state House and Senate and the U.S. House. In the previous round of redistricting, after Census 2000, Summit County was split between two state House districts. Please discuss the ideal redistricting scenario for Summit County, including whether you see keeping the county within one district as important.
4. As an elected official in the House, I have tried to eliminate the disconnect felt by many in Summit County because of imbalanced redistricting. By lecturing to school classes, meeting with the Park City School Board, meeting with the Rotary and Board of Realtors, participating in parades, etc., I have made considerable effort to stay informed regarding constituent needs. That said, Summit County should be its own legislative district. Drawing a line down I-80 is confusing to voters and creates an unnecessary perceived difference between friends and neighbors. It is clear the legislative majority will not redistrict in a fair and balanced manner. Thus, I advocate for a non-partisan, third-party redistricting commission to handle all future boundary determination.
5. Voters defeated an effort to introduce school vouchers to Utah, which would provide taxpayer-funded assistance to parents with children enrolled in private schools. Please discuss the theory of school vouchers — their promise and their problems. Would you support a renewed effort to provide school vouchers?
5. Voters in Utah wisely shut down legislative efforts to create a voucher program in Utah. I have been consistent in my opinion that with the exception of special-needs children, i.e. autism, deaf and blind students, etc., taxpayers should not flip the bill for subsidizing private education. I visited Park City and spoke with residents about this flawed plan and would not support efforts to re-introduce vouchers in future sessions. Vouchers are unconstitutional and the argument for me stops right there.
6. State liquor laws have long pitted the hospitality industry against Utah legislators, who tightly regulate what establishments may serve liquor. Please discuss the successes or faults of the liquor laws, including your opinion of club-membership requirements. Are there any changes you propose to the liquor laws?
6. Last session I introduced a bill to remove the technical violation of home-brewing beer and wines in the state. Though only third down on the Senate calendar, the Bill died due to lack to time to be heard. I will introduce the bill again in November interim and expect it to go to vote in the first week of the 2009 Session. I support the Governor’s efforts to remove club membership and make Utah’s liquor laws more understandable to not only tourists, but locals. Our strict liquor laws were perhaps originally well-intended, but have hurt us when it comes to public perception. Now is the time to loosen the laws and empower consumers and establishment owners with their own accountability.