Congressman Chris Stewart held a constituency outreach meeting on Wednesday, August 17, fielding questions and outlining some of his general policies for the people of Kane County.
The meeting was mostly a question-and-answer session - the public did most of the asking, with a few county and city officials present in an unofficial capacity to contribute. Stewart emphasized meetings like this one as a way to focus on the issues the people want to see handled, saying “Congress tries to pass thousands of bills - not all of them good.”
Some of the questions and answers that specified such issues were as follows:
Q: “What’s the status of right-to-repair legislation that was in the works? We should all have a right to repair our equipment or hire whomever we want to do so. Because of things like proprietary software and hardware, security keys - companies are locking us out of being able to choose who can maintain our own equipment.”
A: “Bottom line, it should be up to the people to decide. There’s bi-partisan support for that - I think you’re going to see that in legislation by this fall.”
Q: “With this proposed legislation, we’re supposed to send our policies and procedures on elections to the federal government, and they send back best practices; then if we don’t follow them, we lose a third of our federal funding. It doesn’t even clarify if this is all federal funding or just the election funding - we in Utah have spent a long time developing good election practices, this seems like the government is moving in to take over our election process.”
A: “I believe in the integrity of Utah elections. I’ve always said that two things need to be true for democratic society to function: the people have to know what’s true, and they have to trust in their elections. I trust the way it’s done in Utah; I don’t necessarily trust the way it’s done in other places. I don’t think this legislation will pass the senate. I think our founding fathers were right when they said that every state is responsible for their own elections.”
Q: “This year we didn’t have as many parents sign up for school lunches, which is one of the main metrics used to determine our school’s funding. This alters how our revenues are received; we’re worried about the financial and physical security of our schools.”
A: “It’s not an impossible proposition to secure schools. This may sound partisan, but many of our Democrat colleagues are so focused on the gun control aspect, that other aspects of school security seem to fall by the wayside. After November, we’ll have a discussion on it - I think there’s help on the way - but we need Republicans to care about many of these issues.”
Stewart also touched on legislation that allows extra funding to rural agencies in areas that have low population, but high visitation - in short, places like Kane County. Sheriff Tracy Glover expressed gratitude for such legislation, citing how taxing last week was for the Search and Rescue services. The operation at Lake Powell required helicopter support, dive teams, boats, and a significant number of man hours to complete, and that was one of two operations in one week - straining Kane County S&R’s resources. Legislations like the one referred to by Sheriff Glover allow federal funding to ease the burden on low-population counties like ours.
Congressman Stewart closed the meeting with a call to action: “All these problems - energy, school security, border security - there are solutions for them. We just need to work together to get them through.”
Future meetings like this one are announced by phone to registered voters, and citizens can also sign up for email notifications on Stewart’s official website.