Laura Bonham | ParkRecord.com
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Laura Bonham

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Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.

I m different because I m a woman and I m a democrat (little d). Our democracy cannot meet the needs of its citizens if we don t have balanced representation in the Legislature, the people s house. The current Legislature does not reflect the population of Utah nor does it serve the interests of a majority of Utahns. The people have consistently called for additional funding for education, but they have been ignored by the Legislature. The citizens of Utah asked that we take care of the neediest among us — give them dental work — and the Legislature voted for a new parking garage instead. The voters asked our surplus be spent on reducing class size, but we got a tax cut anyway. This past session, the Legislature had a chance to open up the Public Employees Health Plan to small business in Utah, but this bill didn t even make it out of committee. Enough is enough. On Nov. 7, you can send a pragmatic woman to the Legislature who understands the needs of small business, agriculture and families. For more information, visit http://www.voteforlaura.org. I m asking for your vote on Nov. 7.

1. The Legislature has considered loosening its development rules, most notably in a bill that stalled in the 2006 session. Please describe the fairness of the state’s rules regulating developers. Please describe one change to the rules you support and, if there are none, discuss why the rules, in your opinion, are adequate.

SB 170 Local Government Land Use and Impact Fee Revisions, introduced by Senator Mansell, is yet another example of how the Legislature has tried to consolidate its power by reserving rights to itself that used to belong to the counties. This was clearly a case where the special interests of big powerful developers took priority over the common good.

County government should have the freedom to determine what works best for its communities when it comes to planning for growth. Were it not for an uproar from citizens, county leaders and the planning community, this bill might well have passed. The current law allows counties the flexibility they need, while providing avenues of redress to applicants.

2. Utah’s tourism industry is critical to the economy of Summit County, employing scores of people and generating lots of the area’s taxes. Please outline your opinion of the Statehouse’s role in promoting tourism. Please discuss one new program you would support that would boost tourism in Summit County.

Legislators should carefully weigh their decisions impact on tourism, which is a steadily growing industry providing needed jobs and tax revenue. Summit County tourism has benefited greatly from recent state investments in promotional and marketing efforts. These should continue to be funded and increased if possible.

Encouragement in public and private mass transit to move tourists conveniently, inexpensively and speedily from Salt Lake should be considered, improving our air quality and traffic movement, too. The private club laws are complicated and confusing to out-of-state visitors and should be abandoned. Utahns can and should be good hosts by offering an exciting nightlife without private clubs. We are lucky to live in this beautiful county and I will work hard to ensure that others are aware of the advantages of visiting this great place.

3. Even after changes to the state’s liquor laws, people in the entertainment industry remain unhappy with what they see as a restrictive and confusing set of rules. Are the liquor laws adequate and do they accomplish their goals? Please discuss one change that you would support.

If the goal is to stop tourists from drinking, then they re relatively effective. By the time a tourist figures them out, it s time to go home. Utah s liquor laws are arcane and complicated. Our laws should regulate alcohol as a matter of public safety, not as a moral obligation to protect law-abiding adults from themselves. Our laws should be user-friendly so that folks can easily comply. The private club laws should be abandoned outright. Public education on the dangers of excessive drinking should continue and drunk-driving laws strictly enforced. There s a middle ground that will promote tourism, create better understanding of the laws, provide for public safety, and allow for the regulation of alcohol — there s just no desire among legislators to find it. I ll be a strong advocate for sensible liquor laws.

4. The Statehouse continues to have difficulty shedding an image of shortchanging Utah students. Is that a fair assessment of the amount of money that is budgeted for education? Please discuss one idea to ensure that the state’s schools are funded adequately.

Where there s a will, there s a way, which is why I am advocating that voters elect me, a candidate who will make school funding my top priority. In the family values state, it s absolutely unacceptable that we are unwilling to adequately fund education. Opportunities exist to create increased funding for our public schools without adding to the average taxpayer burden, but the desire to fund public education by the party in power has been shrinking for a decade and is at an all-time low. Without making education our top priority, we ll never overcome these funding issues. With a mass exodus of teachers and a mass influx of students expected in upcoming years, now is the time to elect a legislator who will never vote to shortchange our kids education.

5. Lots of Summit County s traffic problems are either on or near state-owned roads, notably S.R. 224 and S.R. 248, even after both have been upgraded. Do the state roads in the county function to your liking?

With the anticipated growth in Summit County, we will be facing traffic-flow issues for the foreseeable future. I will work to secure additional funding to support the county s efforts to increase mass transit, both public and private, throughout the entire county and into Salt Lake, reducing the daily congestion on the West Side each day. Next, the state has already been cooperating with county officials to construct a park-and-ride lot at the junction of U.S. 40 and I-80, and I would pursue additional assistance to aid Park City in the construction of a lot at Richardson Flats. And, I will continue to work with county officials and UDOT in solving the problem of congestion at the Kimball Junction intersection.

I also support community-planning efforts to create more walkable communities, helping to eliminate a number of cars in downtown areas.

6. School districts continue to accept students who do not speak English as their native language, mostly Spanish. Please rate the state’s efforts to integrate the non-English speakers and describe one initiative you support addressing those who do not speak English.

A North Summit High School teacher told me about a student in his senior class. The young man cannot speak, read or write English. The teacher is upset — he wants to help this boy, but cannot. The student is failing and will bring down the school s score under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). If the cumulative school score falls too low, important funding will be lost, affecting all students. Rural students have no other alternative than the public schools. I support Governor Huntsman s initiative for all-day kindergarten. I will pursue after-school and summer-school English programs and the resources schools need to bring non-English speaking students up to standards as quickly as possible.

7. Utah allows some undocumented immigrants to hold what are known as driving-privilege cards, which allow them to drive but are not recognized as official identification. Do you support keeping the driving-privilege cards intact or doing away with them?

This is not an immigration issue — it s a public safety issue. Every driver on Utah roads should know the rules of the road, have a valid driver license and have insurance, without exception. How many of the undocumented immigrants failed to renew or to apply for the driving-privilege card because of fear of deportation yet are still driving around? This law, while doing nothing to stop the flow of undocumented workers to Utah, has quite possibly made our roads more dangerous. Driver licenses are issued after drivers have proven they know the law, and no driver should be without one, regardless of their nation of origin or how they got here.

8. Please discuss your opinion of Utah’s tax structure. Should taxes go up, be cut or stay as they are now? Please address in your answer your opinion of the so-called primary home exemption, which makes property taxes more expensive for people who own houses but do not live in the state all year.

People expect their government to provide police services, a functioning legal system, firefighters, paramedics, roads, schools, parks, recreational facilities, garbage pickup, public health, mass transit, etc. By paying for these services, our tax dollars ensure our quality of life.

Our public safety officials are among the lowest paid. School and human services funding is well below the national average. Now is not the time to be offering tax cuts, nor is it the time to increase taxes on the middle class, which is being squeezed from every direction. The dual tax plan provided a big break to the very wealthiest among us who have been enjoying significant tax breaks at the federal level. Education suffers as a result. I support revisiting the Jones-Muscaro legislation.

The repeal of the primary home exemption would cause taxes to increase significantly for every taxpayer living in Summit County. I support the exemption.


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