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Rep. Brian King Ready For The 2020 Session

Brian King

The 2020  Utah Legislative session convenes on Monday and already lawmakers have opened more than 900 bill files in preparation for the 45 day session.

With 2020 being an election year – it should be interesting to see what issues Utah’s republican-dominated legislature decides to tackle this year.

The big topics tend to focus on education, transportation, clean air  and health care. This year, lawmakers will likely have to deal with the passage of their tax reform bill in last year’s special session as well as tinker with the medical cannabis law…

On tax reform, State Representative Brian King, ad Democrat, says there’s a wild card: lawmakers will have to wait and see whether the citizen referendum has the necessary signatures to get put the issue on the ballot. And if it does, he thinks legislators will think twice about what they approved.

“If you get people up at the legislature thinking that we are likely going to face this on the ballot next November, “King said, “I think you’re going to see people at the legislature trying to revisit that special session bill that we passed last month and knock off some of the rough edges in terms of the most controversial aspects of it. But even if we don’t think that that referendum is going to make it through – and we’re going to see on the ballot in November, and I personally would like to see that bill on the ballot in November, – I’d like Utahns even if we think that’s not going to happen, I think we will see continue revisiting to tax reform.”  

And he thinks something must be done to address the shortfall in public education funding as a result of tax reform.

“From my perspective, we need to a better job in funding public education,” King said. “We have this half a billion tax cut out of the education fund that we got to fil that void I think, and we’ve got to come up with a better  method to assure we have adequate funding for public education. So, my hope is we visit that that we address that  in a way  that’s meaningful and effective.” 

Meanwhile, King says he’s bringing back House Bill 104 – even though his Republican colleagues have told him he’s trying to legislate morality. His bill requires citizens – if they can safely - to call for emergency help – when someone is in trouble. He cited the recent death of a disabled person in Florida who drowned because no one helped or called for help. King says it also would be effective legislation, given the number of overdoses in the state…

“We changed the bill a little bit this time from the past, top say that if you act in a willful manner, if you are willfully disregarding the safety of the induvial,  if you have the capacity to make the phone  call and you don’t make the phone all, then you could be subject to criminal prosecution,” King explained. “I hope that this just puts people who are vulnerable whether they’re children or adults in a situation where they’re more likely  to have some bystander who happens to have some personal knowledge of the incident , they’ll call emergency personnel to make sure that the person gets the help that they need. 

King is also introducing HB 109 which requires a background check for all firearm sales. He says while it may seem a tough sell in a gun-friendly state, he’s finding that some republicans willing to support it – even those from the Wasatch Back have gone on record saying they would support it. Among other things, the bill would not allow online sales of guns without a background check and it would close the gun show loophole.  

“Look, this polls at over 90% even in Utah, even among NRA members it polls more than a majority in favor of it,” King said. “And it just makes common sense – it just extends the system that we already have of making sure that background checks occur when you have the sale of a firearm. I agree with you – it’s going to be a tough sell – because there’s so much political pressure brought to bear on some of the folks on the other side of the isle. I think all of the democrats are ok with this increased range of background checks.”

He said he had to make some concessions to the bill with hopes he could get the necessary votes. One of those is the bill doesn’t require a family member to complete a background check if a gun is gifted to them.

He says a similar bill  was adopted in New Mexico – which is also a gun-friendly state.   

The 45-day session starts Monday morning and runs through March 12th.

Utah has one of the shortest legislative sessions in the country.   Neighboring Colorado has a session almost 3 times longer  --120 days.

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