Residents of Utah’s Third Congressional District were able to engage with their elected House representative John Curtis on Wednesday evening.
About 30 residents attended U.S. Representative John Curtis town hall meeting on Wednesday evening in Heber City, with most in attendance challenging the Republican congressman on various issues and topics. Much of the meeting revolved around the behavior of President Donald Trump and Representative Curtis' response to the President's antics. Curtis says one reason constituents haven’t heard as many condemnations from his office is because doing so would occupy a massive amount of the staff’s resources.
“We have to make very difficult decisions in my office almost daily, about how much we're willing to let ourselves get distracted from what we do,” Curtis explained. “We feel really lucky. I've been in Congress 20 months we've passed six bills. From human trafficking, to dealing with small businesses, a public lands bill, a bill dealing with endangered fish in the Colorado River. You can't do both. You have to choose how much distraction you’re going to let into your life and how much you're going to focus on the business.”
Curtis said that many of President Trump's policies were in harmony with the representative and his beliefs. He cited Supreme Court nominations and de-regulations. Curtis did say there were other policies that were out of harmony with his beliefs citing separation of children at the border. Curtis says a few months ago, by happenstance, he was able to have a brief interaction with President Trump.
“So, as he walked through the doorway that was no wider than that, I was there on the other side of it,” Curtis continued. “I grabbed him by the hand, looked him in the eye and said, ‘President, you just need to know this is out of harmony with my district.’”
Another issue with a lot of discussion at the town hall surrounded mass shootings and Second Amendment rights. Curtis mentioned two bills he had supported including a bill that would have enhanced background checks and another bill that allows the CDC to study mass shootings. Before his career in politics Curtis worked selling and building shooting ranges.
“If I'm going to support legislation it has to do two things,” Curtis said. “It has to move the needle, make a difference, and it has to be in harmony with the Second Amendment.”
Curtis believes that solving the mass shooting issue in the U.S. goes beyond Federal Legislation, with the solution coming from state and local governing bodies as well as family practices addressing a variety of issues including building fortification, access to guns and addressing mental illness.
Another topic discussed at the town hall was climate change. Curtis lamented the fact that the Republican party has allowed itself to be branded as the party that doesn’t care about the environment. Curtis says that Republicans and Utah residents in general, care deeply about the environment. He believes there is low hanging fruit that can receive bipartisan support.
“We could reduce carbon emissions in the United States to zero,” Curtis explained. “It will only move the needle 15% in the world's global carbon output. So, I think it's a mistake to talk about this in an isolated role. We have a little window—I'm afraid we’re not going to take advantage of it—I’m talking about our trade talks to influence our trading partners as part of trade talks to say, let's talk about carbon. They don't have to get to zero. We can't be unrealistic with our expectations of them either. If we did nothing more than export our technology on how to burn coal, we would dramatically lower carbon around the globe. There are steps we can take.”
Curtis also said that if China and India were to use a portion of natural gas instead of coal that would greatly reduce carbon outputs around the globe. Curtis also mentioned the SOIL Act that he sponsored. The bill directs a study of soil health on public lands and how it can play a role in carbon capture and sequestration.
Other issues discussed included public lands, the Mueller Report and the opioid crisis. Representative Curtis reports to have participated in over 150 town halls in his district and plans more, something that all in the audience expressed appreciation for.