(KCPW News) Governor Gary Herbert delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday night. He gave a roughly 25-minute address to the assembled Utah legislature, a far cry from the 65 minutes of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address the night before. But the Utah governor covered most of the topics on the minds of Utahns these days.
One such topic was air quality:
“University of Utah research has shown wood smoke alone makes up approximately five percent of the particulates in our winter air and endangers public health. We have learned that burning one log for an hour is equivalent to driving an automobile from Salt Lake City to St. George and back again. So tonight, I call on the Air Quality Board to limit wood burning in non-attainment areas during our entire inversion season.”
In reaction to Herbert’s comments on air quality, Matt Pacenza of HEAL Utah issued a statement praising Herbert’s proposal to ban wood-burning during inversion months, but he urged Herbert to continue to push for more proactive air quality measures moving forward, saying, “This can’t be the final word on how the Herbert Administration approaches polluted air. We also need to crack down on industrial emissions and boost funding for mass transit.”
A contentious issue addressed by Herbert was the same-sex marriage case that temporarily brought down Amendment 3, defining marriage as between two people of opposite gender. Herbert reiterated his position that the decision by federal judge Robert Shelby violated the state’s right to define marriage.
“In Utah, we understand state sovereignty, and we will do everything in our power to represent the will of the people while respecting the democratic and judicial processes,” Herbert said.
He added, “Let me be clear that while I support traditional marriage and will continue to defend Amendment 3, there is no place in our society for hatred and bigotry.”
On Medicaid expansion, Herbert expressed a readiness to work with the legislature to come up with what he called a “Utah solution.”
“This debate should not be about federal dollars versus state dollars,” he said. “They are all taxpayer dollars. Every dollar the government spends comes from the people, and whatever we do in Utah should be in the best interests of the people of Utah.”
Herbert continually stressed the importance of governing Utah in a distinctly Utah way, saying we need to find Utah solutions for Utah problems. He closed his speech with something of a mission statement for the coming year:
“Let us set aside any personal agenda and work to benefit the Utahns we serve. Let us renew our commitment to the principles of good governance, of fiscal prudence and of individual responsibility to continue to make Utah the best place to live, the best place to raise a family and the best place to do business.”
There is some speculation that that line was meant to be a response to House Majority Leader Rebecca Lockhart’s speech on Monday, wherein she called out the governor for inaction.
In the speech, the governor did assess that, despite challenges, the state of the state is strong.
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