ISSUES

Women's Rights

We see the formidable obstacles Utah women face to social participation and career success, and we know these obstacles hurt all of us. Sex should never determine a person’s pay, her or his career options, or her or his family options.There are formidable obstacles that Utah women face, to social participation and career success. We know these obstacles hurt all of us. Sex should never determine a person's pay, his or her career options, or his or her family options. 

I strongly support a women's right to choose, and I'm perplexed by Utah's persistent unwillingness to strengthen the US constitution with the addition of the Equal Rights Amendment. It seems to me to be a grievous mistake an elected group of, predominantly, men reach in to the most intimate and heartfelt decision that a person can make and coerce a certain outcome. As politicians, we must respect a woman's right to choose. These important decisions ought to be made together with consultations, by women, their partners, husbands, families, religious leaders and extended families. It should have nothing to do with elected officials. 


I will continue to prioritize women's rights! 

Air & Water Pollution​

Our air along the Wasatch Front is too often TOXIC!

 

Utah's Legislators and Governors have ignored the condition of Utah's air for a generation. Ironically, any improvement that has come to our air is as a result of EPA requirements. Not Utah Legislative action. As a matter of fact, Utah has been in court almost continuously over the years trying to turn back the very EPA rules that have kept us from complete pollution meltdown.

 

This remains a critical issue that the pollution lobby led legislature and governor only give lip service. With President Trump cutting the EPA budget by 33% and leaving pollution control in the hands of states--HEAVEN HELP US!

Poor air quality prevents Utahans from enjoying a healthy and active lifestyle and limits our state’s ability to attract visitors and jobs. The air we breathe directly affects our health, and Utah’s poor air quality most acutely harms those with increased health risks—particularly the elderly and those living with chronic conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Excessive levels of pollution (whose occurrence is most visible, but not limited to, periods of winter inversion) diminish the opportunities for, and safety of, wintertime and summertime recreation; inaction on these issues risks Utah’s ability to attract tourists and entrepreneurs.

Utah’s population and economy have grown rapidly in the past decade, leading to job creation and new services for Utah families. However, without meaningful action from the public and private sectors, continued growth will lead to more pollution and only complicate the environmental issues affecting Utah’s citizens.

I want to keep Utah the place to raise a family, build a career, and enjoy the outdoors. And we can do this while prioritizing environmental quality and public health.

I believe individuals, businesses and governments at the state, county and city levels can take meaningful action to improve our air quality. We support a balanced and forward-thinking approach to public infrastructure that prioritizes energy efficiency and offers transit alternatives to a wide range of Utahans. Cooperation and planning between private employers and public transit providers can make our mass transit systems more accessible and affordable by encouraging ridership. Local authorities should provide safe and well maintained pedestrian and cyclist thoroughfares in urban areas to enable and encourage non-vehicle transit.

 

I will make it my highest priority to GET OUR AIR CLEAN!

Protecting Public Lands

Over generations, the Utah GOP has been unwilling to face the facts of Public lands. The political price of not appeasing the extremists in their party has been too high to allow for serious discussions. So, at taxpayers’ expense, Utah has built up a multi-million dollar cottage industry of lawyers, PR firms, consultants and state bureaucrats who profit fabulously off the continued fantasy public land legal fight. That must end! Utah spends uncounted millions of dollars (calculatingly segregated into many state budgets–so as to make a total number tough to find) to fund lawsuits against the Feds. The idea is to ‘demand back’ 32,000,000 acres of public land that is in the state.
The Utah ENABLING ACT, the agreement with the Feds that gave Utah statehood (approved July 16, 1894), is the contract signed between the people of Utah and the USA that allowed Utah to become part of the USA, create a state constitution and form a state government.
The Enabling Act reads:
“That the people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they FOREVER disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof; the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States, such lands shall be exempt from taxation by said State so long and to such extent as such act of Congress may prescribe.”
The myth that the state of Utah is ‘owed’ 32,000,000 acres of public land is a faulty and holding it as truth is dangerous. Given its track record, if the legislature and governor got ahold of Utah’s public land the consequences would be catastrophic. People that love an open, free, unexploited, unfenced, outdoor recreation friendly, hunting and fishing availability land – would be fenced out by the huge corporate interests that the state would sell the land to.
I am working hard to protect our sacred lands, to keep the state from acquiring more public land, to make sure that we are not selling off our public land, and to work with our friends in Washington DC to make sure that our rural communities receive compensation on their annual PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) payments to cover their operating expenses.

LGBTQ Equality

While our bisexual, lesbian and gay friends can now legally marry the person they love in Utah, too many LGBT Utahns face discrimination, violence and higher health risks. LGBT youth face disproportionate risk for bullying, homelessness and suicide.

Healthcare

First thing! Utah must accept full Medicaid Expansion IMMEDIATELY. Since January 1, 2014 Utahns have been paying for Expansion. But inexplicably, the Governor and the Legislature have turned back more than $2 billion dollars of Utah’s share of Expansion.

Money that could have helped more than 120,000 low-income Utah families get lifesaving medical care! And imagine all the jobs that would have created in our state! Utah has paid for full Medicaid Expansion--but Utah Republican politicians are playing silly political games with the lives of these families! Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, even Montana have taken these funds. But Utah refuses!

Elections and Redistricting

The Issues:

Utah has a terrible, dysfunctional public official ethics check-up system! It has unlimited corporate and special interests cash contributions. Many legislators receive less than 10% of their contributions from their voters. A majority receive more than 50% of their campaign money from PAC’s, corporations or special interests. It is the best political system money can buy! Utah is one of only four states with this corporate pay-to-play system. It is a SHAME. A DISGRACE!

America’s elections and political processes have become increasingly opaque and disconnected from voters. While political donations provide candidates the ability to engage voters, the rapid growth in spending over the past decade stems from a growth in the influence of moneyed special interests, not popular interests. Allowing money to direct politicians’ moves destroys their relationship with constituents and sows the seeds of corruption in policy-making.

The 2010 Citizens United decision undermined existing election finance laws which had bipartisan support. The ensuing deluge of money into politics has allowed candidates across the country to prioritize the interests of wealthy mega-donors who are no longer limited in their giving. Anonymity and the lack of accountability have clouded transparency in the electoral process.

Our Position: DamnDabakis believes that strong campaign and ethics laws will enhance voters’ power over their lawmakers and that a more transparent government will serve as a better government. Elected officials should be held accountable to these standards. They are not at present in Utah.

K-12 Education

Utah’s state commitment to K-12 Education had declined from top priority from pioneer times to utter and disgraceful abandonment over the last couple of generations.

The Facts:

Utah children are crammed into the largest classrooms in America, with the lowest spending per student, helped by the smallest number of administrators, counselors and nurses. Test scores are declining, state officials are cheating to make the state test results look better and our beloved teachers are the lowest paid per student in America!

What they won’t tell you: Terrified by the far right extremist in their party (and frankly unchallenged by the gutless broader engaged community), Utah GOP leaders refuse to initiate a ‘Manhattan-style’ project to save Utah’s next generation! They too often put pleasing the fringe of their party ahead of making changes necessary to allow Utah’s education system competitive. Like Nero, they concentrate on petty issues. High-fiving small changes around the fringes as the school bus of Utah education goes off the cliff.

We have become Donald Trump. Where Utah once aspired to intelligence (we didn’t belittle it—it didn’t make us feel inferior), we now fill it with saddle schools with vendors, profiteers and useless ideological legislative regulations. Education made Utah great. The price we are paying – the loss of a generation to appease the ideological fringe of the right – will hurt our state for many, many years to come.

The Solution: Be bold. Accept that there is a cataclysmic problem in Utah education. Accept that it IS mostly about money. Bring the billions back to education. In 1996 Utah changed its constitution and in 2006 Utah created a flat tax. The results of those two moves have crippled Utah’s K-12 education. We must bring back the divinely inspired pre-1996 Utah Constitution (when 100% of state income tax went to K-12 education) and rollback the 2006 flat tax. That would bring in more than a BILLION dollars to Utah’s school children! Do it!

Immigration

The whole state of Utah should be a Sanctuary Place. People who have lived in Utah for many years, raised their families here, paid taxes here and contributed to our society ought not be hunted down and returned to countries that haven’t been to in years.

 

The United States is a nation of immigrants, and even today, immigration continues to drive our population and economic growth. Politicians and historians often refer to America as a melting pot, uniting and welcoming people of various national and ethnic backgrounds. But America’s present immigration system presents a more convoluted reality.

 

Legal and economic obstacles face those who want to come to or stay in the United States. More than 11 million immigrants currently live and work in the U.S. without legal authorization and without any reasonable avenue to change their legal status. This reality complicates the jobs of public service providers and law enforcement officers and inhibits the ability of private sector employers to find workers.

 

Immigrants to our country often face serious obstacles to pursuing their American dream, most particularly finding safe work that pays a livable wage. Families and individuals who come to the U.S. seek a better life, and yet they often lack access to legal protection and important social services necessary for learning and working.

 

Our Position: We believe in meaningful action to modernize America’s immigration system. We need changes that will uphold human dignity, support our economy and – most importantly – keep families together.

 

We know we all benefit from a diverse and productive society when industrious people come here to work and raise their families. We fully support further action to ensure DREAMers and their families can fully access and enjoy our society. We also support congressional action to deliver a comprehensive federal solution that creates a path to citizenship for the many immigrants who are already contributing to our society.

Economy

The Issues:

  • The state must concentrate on finding HIGH paying jobs, NOT $10 an hour call center jobs.

  • State leaders need to recognize the obvious--fossil fuels are a dying industry and tourism and outdoor recreation are Utah’s play for the future.

  • Utah needs an immediate raising of the minimum wage to $12 an hour.

  • Utah also needs to find a way to deal with oppressive student debt if we are going to prosper as a state. Students with a 10-year large loan payback will not be buying a house or a new car for a long, long time.

Despite the state continually touting the Utah economy (the Republicans say it has never been better), many Utah workers, small employers and entrepreneurs face serious obstacles to success. Despite continued huge economic expansion for the richest 1%, the Utah economy has delivered weak wage and salary growth in contrast to the growing costs of living, even during the 2001-2007 economic expansion that preceded the Great Recession.

Ongoing globalization will continue to change the nature of our economy and labor market, but the new reality in which we will work and live does not provide our policy-makers an excuse for inaction. Utah families of all shapes and sizes must have the opportunity to work for a rewarding career, a safe retirement and a legacy for the next generation.

Utah needs a diverse economic base and a healthy, educated workforce to maintain, attract and retain good paying businesses and employers. Continued insufficient funding for education, social programs, and a lack of public investment diminish our future capacity for growth and social equity.

Changes to our state tax code (most importantly the implementation of a flat income tax) have exacerbated inequality and have limited our state budget. We must go through more than a billion dollars of state tax loopholes, special deductions and corporate incentives. Taxes must be FAIR. Our state's system is NOT.

Moreover, ignoring issues of environmental degradation and pollution likewise risk not only the health of our society, but also the tourism and recreation business the vital cornerstone to Utah’s future economy and quality of life.

Transportation

It's almost unimaginable to contemplate the Wasatch Front over the next 30 years will have twice the number of people. Imagine twice as many cars, roads, and traffic jams.

We have to be innovative, and we need to be planning now. I will continue to fight for better transportation for Utahans!

Transportation

Thank you for taking an interest in the Utah Legislature. It always inspires me to hear from people on the many issues that we face.

Every American should feel confident that they are paying a fair amount of taxes. The current system, both nationally and in Utah, favor the rich, and favor those who have enough money to make the laws. For example, the 2006 "flat tax" took 322 million dollars a year out of Utah's crowded classrooms, and distributed it to 19,000 Utahans who make more than 500,000 dollars a year. That is not fairness, that's creepy.

I pledge to restore the state income tax back to the levels of 2006 for people making more than 500,000 dollars a year, and to take a meat clever to the dozens of special interest loopholes which have been added to the Utah state tax system over the last generation.

We can educate our children and run state government with much more revenue without raising taxes without raising taxes on middle income Utahans by simply making the tax system fair for everyone. I will continue to promote tax programs that are fair!