Editorial: Effort to make Summit County’s voice heard on Capitol Hill is encouraging
November 15, 2017
The 2018 Utah Legislative session is still a little more than two months away, but Summit County leaders are getting an early start on ensuring their voices are heard at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City.
Last week, the County Council hosted a legislative reception, inviting the five state lawmakers whose districts cover Summit County for an evening of mingling and discussion of issues that will affect local residents this legislative session. It was the first such formal gathering the county has organized in recent years, and officials say they want to make it an annual event.
Here's to hoping they do.
Separated from the State Capitol by the Wasatch Range and without a large population, Summit County does not always demand the focus of the legislative session. The reception was aimed at strengthening the relationships between local officials and the state legislators to make it easier to ensure that Summit County's interests are always acknowledged on Capitol Hill.
The lawmakers seemed to welcome the overture. Each one — Reps. Tim Quinn, Logan Wilde and Brian King attended, as well as Sens. Kevin Van Tassell and Allen Christensen — addressed the gathering and said they appreciated the opportunity to better get to know the county councilors and other county staffers. They were complimentary of the efforts of local elected officials throughout the county and said they were committed to faithfully representing its residents.
Residents should be heartened by the willingness of both their local officials and our state legislators to keep an open dialogue. It's critical for local representatives to have the ear of lawmakers when important issues arise on Capitol Hill. More than one legislator mentioned at the gathering that input from county officials about how issues affect real people can influence their decision making.
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Given the sense of collegiality in the room last week, there's plenty of reason to think that could pay off when the Legislature meets in January. That's how government is supposed to work, and it's a credit to all involved — particularly considering the partisan divide between the all-Democrat County Council and the mostly-Republican makeup of the local roster of state lawmakers.
Of course, whether last week's event was more than simply a polite exchange of empty pleasantries won't be evident until bills begin working their way through the system this winter.
But it would have been hard to walk away from the gathering not encouraged by the commitments made there. Residents should urge their leaders to stay true to them. If they do, Summit County's voice is sure to echo through the halls of the State Capitol louder than ever before.
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