Kraig Powell (R) – Utah House District 54
Kraig Powell (Republican)
Utah House of Representatives District 54
1: What are your qualifications to run for a seat in the state House of Representatives and why do you want to serve?
My introduction to politics came as the chair of three successive school bond campaign committees, ultimately winning passage of the bond for the new Wasatch High School by 67 percent. I hold a Ph.D. in government and political science from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. I teach political science at UVU-Wasatch. I have served in the Utah House of Representatives since 2009. I am an attorney with a practice in local government law, including currently serving as City Attorney for Midway City and Francis City.
The thing I enjoy most about serving in the Legislature is rekindling people’s faith in government. I do not accept money from lobbyists, corporations or special-interest groups. All of the legislation that I introduce comes from my local constituents, not from lobbyists. I find that people are glad to be able to meet with me about issues and thereby have their individual voice expressed on Capitol Hill.
2: The state is actively trying to reinstate its ban on same-sex marriage. Where do you stand on this issue?
As a private citizen who subscribes to a particular set of moral and religious beliefs, I maintain personally that homosexual conduct is improper. The fact that I hold these beliefs as an individual does not by itself, however, determine the public policies that I as a state legislator think should be implemented. As a matter of public policy, same-sex couples have legitimate complaints about how they are treated by our state government.
Financially, they are not allowed to obtain the full tax advantages granted to opposite-sex partners. Legally, they do not have the full relationship rights of property, inheritance, health insurance and medical decisions that opposite-sex partners do. I believe the Utah Legislature should act to provide redress to these legal inequities by affording gays and lesbians with same-sex partners the financial and legal benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples through a legally-sanctioned relationship as a matter of state law.
Editor’s note: This question was asked before the Supreme Court declined to hear Utah’s appeal of the 10th Circuit Court’s decision to overturn Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages.
3: 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.
I believe federal officials try their best to manage the lands under their control. As long as the law stays as it is, citizens need to comply with lawfully-issued orders of federal officials. No citizen is justified in taking the law into his or her hands. As a matter of public policy, I do believe that Utah is unfairly treated compared to 45 other states. Most of the land in these states was originally owned by the federal government, but was eventually relinquished to the control of state government and private individuals. I believe that this pattern should ultimately be followed in Utah. There is no reason to think that a distant level of government can or should properly own and manage the majority of land in Utah. Our local governments and citizens have much better knowledge, incentive and moral claim to supervise the proper uses of our land.
4: 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.
I support maximum local control over education policy and funding. As a member of the House Education Standing Committee, as well as the Public Education Appropriations Committee, I have fought to preserve local flexibility for education funding and have successfully opposed "equalization" efforts that would take Park City education dollars to redistribute to the Wasatch Front. There are no easy answers to Utah’s last-in-the-nation per-pupil funding status. The problem is primarily an issue of large family size compared to a small commercial tax base. We need to grow our state’s economy and attract additional businesses by smart tax and regulatory policies and by cleaning up our air quality. I remain committed to directing all available funds to public education as the highest priority.
5: 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.
I think that conservatives, liberals and moderates can all agree that alternative and renewable energy is the future of our country’s economy. For many, many reasons, we need to be encouraging the development of alternative fuels. I support making the playing field level for all types of energy, which includes factoring in the negative externalities caused by use of fossil fuels. With Utah’s poor air quality, one good step would be to impose a surcharge on anything less than Tier III gasoline, to expedite its introduction into our state’s gas stations and automobiles. I have also sponsored legislation to allow cities and counties to purchase renewable energy directly from suppliers to provide to the utility customers in their local communities.
6: Please differentiate your platform from your opponent’s.
Glenn Wright has for some years been a good friend of mine and so I have enjoyed this race. My philosophy is to vote for policy not party. Because Glenn is the chair of the Summit County Democratic Party, I do think that he may be more obligated than I am to support the party on issues where more independence may be needed. I also differ from Glenn on the question of Medicaid expansion. I support Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan, which I believe is a more moderate, middle-of-the-road position than either of the two extremes.
Glenn and his fellow Democrats support full tradition Medicaid expansion. I believe that Utah does need to recapture the hundreds of millions of dollars that we are paying to the federal government in taxes, and that our low-income citizens badly need a basic level of health insurance that they cannot afford. But traditional Medicaid is an inefficient and unrealistic mandate that drives away health care providers and offers a sub-standard quality of care. utilizing the power of the free market and competition, the Healthy Utah plan will provide affordable, tailored coverage that individuals and families can choose on their own from many offerings.
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