Legislative Site Visit Recap
Many members of the Utah Legislature recently returned from a two-day site visit to Southern Utah, with stops in Millard, Beaver, Iron, Garfield, Piute and Sevier Counties. In addition to various site visits, the bus ride consisted of presentations from officials in many of the areas through which the lawmakers were traveling. They visited the largest power plant in the state, Intermountain Power Plant (IPP), which, incidentally, produces power mainly for the Los Angeles area. Power seemed to be the theme of the day – from traditional coal-fired to fuel storage to windmills to solar. Southern Utah produces and provides energy for much of the state and beyond and the legislators visited a few of those sites, including Magnum fuel storage, First Wind and the Red Hills solar project.
Another major theme was education. Not only did lawmakers enjoy presentations by representatives of Southern Utah University and Snow College, but were able to hear about many of the challenges facing rural schools. Despite limited budgets and falling rates of enrollment, rural districts are facing their challenges head on in meeting the educational needs of their students.
It was clear that no matter where on the political spectrum one falls, one of the greatest issues facing those in rural Utah is the ever-encroaching power of the federal government as it relates to federal lands, and the need of local officials to have more control.
The opportunity to see other areas of the state and speak with residents, business and education leaders and local representatives in their own communities, had a significant impact on those from more urban areas whose constituents oftentimes face far different challenges. The experience will allow for greater understanding of the unique issues faced by rural Utahns and hopefully lead the state to new ways of solving old problems in our rural communities.