CEDAR CITY — With mail-in balloting for the November general election already in progress, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Peterson used a Cedar City town hall to advance his plans for Utah’s future.
During the town hall hosted by Southern Utah University, Peterson and running mate Karina Brown announced an 11-point plan to facilitate growth in rural Utah.
“Chris and I want to protect hard-working folks and their families across Utah,” Brown said, explaining that their development plan is based on input from voters gathered while touring rural communities throughout the state.
“Providing opportunity for more rural growth is an issue I’m deeply passionate about,” Brown said. “It’s been such a privilege to create this plan considering Utah’s 29 diverse counties.”
“This pandemic has shown the strength of Utahns and our communities,” Peterson emphasized, “but it’s also highlighted some of our weaknesses … Utah’s energy security, food security and economic security are directly tied to rural economic development. So Utah’s future depends on strong rural communities.”
The elements of the Democrats’ 11-point plan to facilitate rural growth include:
- Making broadband Internet access available throughout rural Utah to promote educational opportunities, healthcare options and business connections.
- Expanding access to affordable health care, including mental health treatment, throughout Utah by providing financial support to rural hospitals and clinics as well as supporting telehealth programs.
- Creating a student loan forgiven programs for young would-be farmers and ranchers.
- Creating public-private meatpacking co-ops as an alternative to off-shore multi-national agribusinesses to protect the economic independence of rural Utahns.
- Expanding and nurturing Utah’s outdoor industries, including outdoor-oriented retailers, the tourism industry and federal/state land management efforts.
- Providing one-time tax credits to rural businesses that establish bona fide apprenticeship programs for youthful workers.
- Proposing legislation to create renewable-energy worker training grants and public financial support for green energy development.
- Proposing right-to-repair legislation to oppose anti-competitive practices by farm equipment manufacturers that require their machinery to be only repaired by authorized dealers at high costs.
- Fighting to increase Utah’s share of energy royalties and bring Payment in Lieu of Taxes from statewide real estate controlled by the federal government up to market values.
- Supporting Utah’s research universities to facilitate their efforts to lead innovation in information technology, bio-technology, aerospace research and the banking industry.
- Capping interest rates on payday loans and enhancing enforcement of existing laws prohibiting unconscionable lending, deceptive advertising and abusive loan terms.
Peterson criticized the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, calling for Gov. Gary Herbert, rival gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and other state officials to demonstrate “the political courage” to impose a statewide mask mandate and other restrictive health precautions.
Written by CHARLIE SCHILL, Cache Valley Daily
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