I have received a LOT of emails about mask-wearing and whether or not the government should mandate it. Most of the emails are against mandating masks, though a few have been in favor.
My response to all has been that I do not support a statewide mask mandate. I do support individual agency and consideration of others. Even though I am not convinced of the efficacy of wearing a mask, I choose to wear one when I go places where I will be in close proximity with people who feel more comfortable with me wearing a mask.
Here is an article you can read about the legislature and mandating masks. Utah legislative leaders say a statewide mask requirement is not necessary.
Brad Wilson, Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, provided the following statement regarding a statewide mandate to wear masks in public:
“While Utah has made significant progress combating COVID-19, we need to remember that this pandemic is far from over. The most effective way for us to keep our economy moving, open schools, play team sports, and get back to normal life is to wear a mask when social distancing is not practical. While they pose a minor inconvenience, I am committed to leading by example, as have many legislators.
However, I believe it’s prudent to stop short of issuing a statewide government mandate. Doing so would apply the same policy to our most densely populated areas as our rural areas and areas with different rates of infection. Local officials are better positioned to make data-driven decisions regarding face masks that are tailored to their communities.
As elected officials, members of the Utah House of Representatives work to strike the proper balance between enacting policies beneficial for our constituents while protecting the rights of the people of our state. In Utah, we prefer to encourage people to do the right thing rather than issuing mandates and demanding compliance.
We encourage all Utahans to consider how they can do their part to slow the rapidly increasing cases of COVID-19 and make a personal commitment to doing their part to help us get life back to normal as soon as possible and protect the vulnerable and remain safe.”
MONEY FOR UTAH
The federal government controls over 60% of the land in Utah. That means Utah cannot develop or collect property taxes on this land, among other things. Because of state revenue loss due to federal lands, in 1976, Congress made two commitments to hold states harmless in terms of revenue: 1. To pay states the tax-equivalent amount in lieu of property taxes (payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT), and 2. to make public lands available for the expansion of existing communities and the development of new cities towns. A recent analysis by the Utah legislature determined that the federal PILT payments we have received are a small fraction of the equivalent amount promised by Congress.
Of the federal land in Utah, 1.2% is within one mile of Utah city boundaries, and 0.4% is within Utah city boundaries. This might not sound like much land, but it amounts to almost 900,000 acres. Based on Congress’s commitment to Utah, the 2019 PILT payments for just these acres should have been about $500,000,000 (yes, half a billion dollars); however, the amount the federal government paid was less than $2,000,000. This is only 0.4% of the amount promised.
The bipartisan PILT Fairness Initiative, which received unanimous support from the Utah Legislature, seeks the full property tax replacement amount for the federally retained lands. This will allow us to better fund education, pay our employees adequately, fund essential other programs, and keep taxes low for Utahans. I am very excited about this initiative.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Rep. Marsha Judkins