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Utah Democrats lay out their 2022 goals, address Cox’s State of the State

Jan 20, 2022, 10:50 PM | Updated: Sep 23, 2022, 1:01 pm

House Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, Sen. Kat...

House Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, front row left to right, and House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, back right, walk to a press conference outlining the Democrats’ legislative priorities for the year at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Day 3 of the Utah legislative session, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Photo credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY —  Utah House minority leaders gathered at the south steps of the Utah State Capitol Thursday to outline their plans for this year’s legislative session. Promoting a living wage, affordable child care, and continuing to fight COVID-19 were among the Democrats’ top priorities.

A typical winter inversion framed the comments made by Rep. Suzanne Harrison (D-District 32). She discussed the benefits of Tier 3 gasoline that she says more Utahns should know about.

“One thing that I don’t think people realize is just having that Tier 3 gasoline in your car is the equivalent of taking four out of five cars off the road,” Harrison said.

Tier 3 gasoline, when used with fully compliant Tier 3 vehicles, is said to reduce as much as 80% of the auto emissions that contribute to pollution. Utah refineries began producing Tier 3 gasoline in 2017. Harrison supports a tax credit for alternative fuel vehicles.

Response to COVID-19 pandemic

Sen. Derek Kitchen (D-District 2) says the COVID-19 pandemic remains a large concern for him and those he represents. He was disappointed with the Utah Senate’s decision to overturn mask mandates in Salt Lake and Summit Counties on the first day of the 2022 session.

“It’s unfortunate that they totally skipped the process and ignored the will of the people, the general public, all because of a burned ego? Because the county mayor said that people need to wear masks?” Kitchen said.

Despite the senate’s decision, Kitchen said he continues to urge people to keep wearing masks to help protect themselves and others from COVID-19 infection.

Democrats respond to State of the State

While they agreed with several issues addressed by Gov. Cox during his speech on Thursday, Utah Democrats said he missed an opportunity to speak about many others.

“In his speech, Governor Cox put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of families to our state,” the Utah Democratic Party said in a statement. “To truly help Utah families, we need to make sure that all Utahns are paid a living wage, that childcare is accessible and affordable for all.”

“We also must address the threat of climate change to our state. The worsening droughts that we are seeing each year are not anomalies, they are directly caused by climate change, and they are hurting our Utah’s quality of life.

“Without firmly committing to policy proposals in these areas, any talk about supporting families is nothing but empty rhetoric,” a statement from Utah Democrats continued.

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Utah Democrats lay out their 2022 goals, address Cox’s State of the State