Ure ends a fiery tenure on the Hill
With the 45-day general session of the Utah Legislature set to convene Jan. 15, a Kamas dairy farmer turned lawmaker who retired this month after serving 14 years on Capitol Hill, says politicians are cramming too many bills into the 6-week process.
State politics are being manipulated by businesses like law firms and banks the allow employees to work essentially as full-time legislators, said retired Rep. David Ure, a Republican from Kamas who claimed to have no immediate political aspirations.
"Because the session is so short those full-time legislators are now learning everything they can about the process," Ure said, adding that citizen lawmakers who work as teachers and farmers are at a disadvantage. "Those who have the education and who have the information are becoming powerful and are becoming the leaders in the Legislature."
Ure, who is 55 years old, says he won’t miss "inside politics" on the Hill.
"I will miss the opportunity of squaring off on somebody and debating principles with them," he said. "The inside politics? No, I’m happy milking cows."
But championing rights of immigrants likely made Ure one of Utah’s most controversial political insiders.
"I have made some very big political enemies on the immigration stance that I have taken," he said.
Ure during his tenure on the Hill sponsored legislation that allowed illegal immigrants to receive driver licenses and breaks on tuition costs reserved for state residents.
"You educate those who are willing to be educated and quit putting barriers in their way when they can barely afford the in-state tuition," said Ure, who expects to be seen on Capitol Hill this month lobbying against efforts to repeal the tuition law.
Meanwhile, allowing illegal immigrants to drive means officers can track undocumented criminals, Ure contends.
"And the percentage of people on the road without insurance decreased," he added.
An education in tourism
The gerrymandering several years ago of his district in the House of Representatives could have rendered Park City voters voiceless, said Ure, who participated in the lumping of more urban Parkites with constituents in rural Morgan, Daggett, Rich and Wasatch counties.
"To a great extent the district was gerrymandered but [Parkites] needed a Republican who also understood their issues in Park City and Summit County," he added, about conversations he had with city leaders in anticipation of the redistricting of the state’s political boundaries.
Learning about Park City’s economic dependence on tourism was a political epiphany for Ure, who said, "I had absolutely zero upbringing in it."
"Dave worked really hard to understand the issues," Park City Manager Tom Bakaly said.
While his critics say Ure balked at pushing needed liquor-law reform, the former representative insists the earmarking last year of $10 million to be spent promoting the state wouldn’t have occurred without support garnered from other lawmakers by him and state Sen. Ross Romero, who served portions of the Snyderville Basin in the House before winning his Senate seat in 2006.
"The principles of tourism were right and the state of Utah owes a lot to the foresight of the Park City residents and the Park City business people," Ure said. "If the principles are right, then I don’t really give a damn."
Lawmakers ‘believe their water comes out of the faucet’
Ure says in the past six years he helped introduce nearly 90 percent of the new legislation dealing with water in the state, including stiffening penalties last year for those found guilty of stealing water.
"Water has most of its power and authority through historical use," he said, lamenting that lawmakers from the Wasatch Front don’t understand water rights in Utah.
Know your past, know your future
Ure regrets some heavily conservative leanings he held when first elected in the mid-1990s.
"I don’t believe the two extremes, the right or the left, belong in the Legislature," he said. "When I went in, I was a right extreme because I didn’t understand the other people’s points of view Dave Ure is not always right."
Political newcomers, confused about their role on the Hill, should read writings of the Founding Father, Ure advised, adding, "there are no new problems, we’ve just got to learn from history."
"Do we in this body really think we have all the brains in the state of Utah?" he asked.
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