I want to talk to you about a few questions I’ve recently received from the media:
What do you think about medical marijuana?
Lots of attention is being paid to this issue and many individuals claim it helps to treat various ailments that they experience. Personally, I am not a medical professional and am completely unqualified to weigh in on the issue of whether or not marijuana is an effective treatment for any illnesses or ailments; as a politician I weigh in on public policy issues. There is an infrastructure in place in this country to determine what medications are safe and effective, how they ought to be prescribed and for what. Politicians have no place in this discussion.
What are we doing as a state to prioritize education?
I call myself a technology immigrant, maybe even a refugee. I was born in a world without all of the gadgets and advancements that are all around us today. I refer to our children as technology natives; yet, though they’ve grown up with these devices, they don’t have the same access to the technology in their schools that we have in everything else that we do.
Our late Speaker Becky Lockhart started the conversation to bring these technologies into our children’s school in order to make teachers’ jobs easier and individualize learning. Rep. Knotwell has been working with the State School Board and other education stakeholders to move the ball forward in improving the education experience for our kids.
Why do some crazy Republicans believe we should be able to manage the federal lands in our state?
This is not a partisan issue. Thirty-eight states east of Denver have managed their own lands, disposed of by the federal government and those states have been able to grow and prosper because of it. The 12 states west of Denver have 50% or more of their land controlled by the federal government; east of Denver only 5%. In Utah, it’s over 65%.
This means that lands in the east have property taxes and can generate revenue to fund public education in those states. Utah, a state with more schoolchildren per taxpayer and very little of our land to manage and to fund our schools, is not equal to those states.
Statistics show that if you care about being good stewards of the land and environment local jurisdictions, right there on the ground and closest to the people and the lands, will generally manage them best. If you care about the environment, you should care about this issue.
If you care about the fundamental principles of freedom and equality, you should care about this issue. We suffer from a strange gerrymandering when our state can’t grow in population because it’s artificially inhibited by federal lands that you can’t walk on, you can’t build a road across, you can’t put fiber and technology infrastructure across it.
You are limited in many ways and your access to the House of Representatives, decided by population, is limited as well. We’re a state like every other state and we should be treated that way. If we were, you’d see our schools funded in a much better way, you’d see the environment managed and responsibly taken care of in a way we all want. You would see this state, its citizens and its fundamental freedoms protected, and our access to the federal process equal to other states.
Democrat Governor Matheson, in 1980, declared he was a sagebrush rebel with Ronald Reagan who was at that time running for President. We all, Democrats and Republicans, can agree we can do far better than the bureaucrats in Washington D.C.
What are you talking about when you mention water infrastructure, and why does it even matter?
We are a desert state, and from the early days of the pioneers’ arrival here, they diverted City Creek to flood fields and grow crops, knowing that more people were coming.
The state’s history, starting from those early pioneers, has never slowed down. We couldn’t see the kind of growth we’ve experienced if it weren’t for the water infrastructure we have right now. Eighty percent of the water in Salt Lake County comes from outside the county.
We have an aging water infrastructure system and no longer have the federal government’s participation in the financing of reservoirs and maintenance. The state cannot take on the burden of doing this and water districts and other stakeholders must work together to be sure we have the water to accommodate the future growth that’s coming.