The Salt Lake Tribune, in an effort to allow legislators an opportunity to explain why bills they are sponsoring are important to them, is asking state leaders to talk about their measures for a feature called "In Their Own Words." The videos will appear regularly during the legislative session.
Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, has been trying to get air quality legislation for years. This year, however, has seen increased involvement from the public, she says. With five air quality bills, Arent heads up the Clean Air Caucus, a geographically diverse, bipartisan coalition made of legislators from Logan to St. George.
Arent says she is dedicated to improving air quality because it’s about more than health.
"We know that this is an important health issue, but it’s also an important economic development issue," she said. "We have companies that won’t look at Utah because of our air quality. We have tourists that don’t want to come back because they came during the worst inversion."
One of Arent’s bills, HB38, would require the governor to appoint a sustainability director who would oversee and coordinate sustainability efforts between state agencies. Arent says as the largest employer in the state, state government should spearhead efforts to improve air quality and a sustainability director would help do that.
HB19, also sponsored by Arent, allows for charging stations of electric vehicles in the private sector.
Arent says she faces challenges to her clean-air bills because they have a cost.
"They’re expensive," she said. "But they’re not as expensive as the health-care cost to our citizens. They’re not as expensive as economic losses from tourists that don’t come here or businesses that don’t stay. Frankly I think they’re cheaper in the long run but we are going to have to come up with some money to pass those bills."
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