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Monday, August 07, 2006

Site Visit 2006

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator

This week will mark another legislative site visit to a rural area of the state so we can see first hand the problems we only hear about at the Capitol and give the local residents a chance to speak with us. I have really enjoyed these events and have learned a lot about what we can do to improve the quality of life for all our citizens.

Our actions to put legislative committees, chamber debates and other events on the internet have helped open up the process to those who normally can only catch snippets on the TV or radio or the larger newspapers. Early on, we took some criticisms in the Salt Lake media that these were only "junkets." It is true that we try to have fun events as part of the time there but I am sure that those riding on a school bus around St. George about 2:00 p.m. in July did not find that the most enjoyable thing they could have been doing.

Last year, I had the honor of helping to host the site visit to Northern Utah. It was fun to see our local officials become involved in the planning and enjoy the experience. I am sure the local officials in the Basin will have the same experience.

I think the biggest surprise last year was the shock to see how many of the fruit farms in Perry and Willard are gone, the same with the farm land in Cache Valley. Where are all the people coming from? What will we do for food if the outside producers can’t get here? In the Uintah Basin we enjoy the revenue from the renewed oil and gas productions but have we really been fair to the areas that have had to suffer under the growth without needed help? I hope the press will feel the need to cover the event - not just to spy on legislators and make sure they don’t have any fun - but to cover the concerns and broadcast them in such a way that the whole state will know what is happening in an important area that currently has some very serious challenges. These site visits are extremely informative. I believe they result in better legislation and are well worth the time away from the office.

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