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Watkins ‘excited’ to return to Legislature

In a recent interview with the Sun Advocate, Rep Christine Watkins (R-69) talked about her optimism for the upcoming legislative session in Salt Lake City.
Watkins said that she was “excited and that it is interesting to be back in government after four years.” She was re-elected in November, defeating incumbent Brad King, 51.35 percent to 48.65 percent in the District 69 vote.
“The budget is the most important thing,” Watkins said. “There’s a finite amount of money that is available,” Watkins stressed, noting the responsibility for legislatures not to spend more money than they have. She said Utah has one of the best environments for business creation in the country with its low taxes and limited regulations, along with being ranked as one of the best states when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
Among the other issues that interest her are public lands rights and health care.
On the issue of federal land rights, which has gained national attention after Cliven Bundy and an anti-government movement openly challenged the federal government over land lease payments, Watkins said, “We’re fighting the federal government here in Utah.” But she noted that the group in Nevada took their opposition to a much more extreme measure and that she would like to use the legislative process to oppose new designations by the federal government.
“We need some of our land back,” Watkins continued noting the large amount of land that has been designated as wilderness study areas throughout the Western states. In late November President Barack Obama designated Bears Ears in Southeastern Utah a national monument and 1.35 million acres of land around the monument to the protection of the federal government.
A second issue of importance to Watkins includes the Affordable Care Act and what will happen if the new Congress and President repeal it. “What are they going to replace it with?” Watkins asked, noting the fear of what will replace the ACA. “That’s the big unknown.”
Throughout the presidential and congressional campaigns, Republicans promised to repeal and replace the ACA but have failed to articulate what they would replace the law with.
Owing her political comeback to real world experiences of past legislative sessions, Watkins explained that she was “always a strong rural person” and that the Democrats in the state legislature only cared about issues affecting urban communities. “It became very evident that I was voting with the Republicans,” Watkins said of her political transformation and voting record. She switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party after her loss in the 2012 district election to Republican Jerry Anderson. “I know I’m conservative,” Watkins continued, noting that she has had colleagues tell her that she was much more conservative than they were.
The state legislature begins January 23 and runs until March 9. Bill prefiling has already begun.

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