Only eight days after winning the 3rd Congressional District special election, Rep. John Curtis paid a surprise visit to the Grand County Council at their Nov. 21 meeting. After being asked to sponsor a bill for the Recovery Act, Curtis came to Moab to learn about the proposed legislation, one aspect of which involves endangered species restoration in the Colorado River.
After being asked to sponsor the bill, Curtis came to Grand County to learn more about the bill from the Utah Division of Natural Resources (DNR)
“What I’ve learned is that there’s some pretty significant things going on right here in Moab for these endangered species that are good even if you don’t care about endangered species, that are good for your economy, good for both water usage situation and I’ll be pleased to in a few days introducing my very first bill dealing with this issue right here in Moab,” Curtis said.
After meeting with the DNR, Curtis attended the council meeting.
“I’m here also to learn ... more about your issues, the things that are important to you, the things that you are dealing with and look forward to serving you and as I get to know you, it makes it easier for me to understand how to help you and be of assistance,” Curtis said.
Council Member Mary McGann mentioned the importance of finishing the UMTRA project and asked about the endangered species recovery work.
“This is a little bit of a balancing act for projects that go in the waterways, allowing us to go ahead and do those projects. This is a balance and part of the commitment is we do these other projects with waterways but we do these recovery programs as well," said Curtis.
Council Member Curtis Wells asked for an update on tax reform.
The congressman said that the House of Representatives passed tax reform this week.
“Overall it’s extremely good in a number of areas. One of the things that I like about it that’s not talked about very much is, many of us talk about the influence of Washington lobbyists. Lobbyists control Washington D.C. This bill has been one massive pushback against lobbyists. It’s eliminating a lot of the loopholes that have been out there that were put in by lobbyists over the years. One of the things that I’d like to give Congress credit for is pushing back against all this lobbying effort and saying, we don’t care, looking forward it’s the right thing to do,” Curtis said.
Council Member Evan Clapper mentioned the importance of the national parks to the local economy, saying, “The national parks are a huge economic driver for us and there’s a proposed increase to the entrance fees and I think a lot of people are willing to pay more to support the parks but on the other hand there’s also a reduction in funding proposed, so that even though people are paying more to visit the parks, the parks would be receiving less money … I just want to encourage you to support the visitor experience in the parks and not to decrease any funding.”
Curtis replied to Clapper, saying, “That’s easy for me to support. I too want to walk this fine balance between charging what the parks need to charge and yet not pricing them out, just making it a place that the more affluent are able to go.”
Council Member Greg Halliday mentioned the possibility that VA services would be taken over by TriCare, saying, “As a veteran I keenly look at that because I use the VA but I also use TriCare so I’m not sure how they can justify that.”
Curtis said that he would have to spend more time looking into the issue.
“I appreciate you giving me a few minutes and I’ll make sure this isn’t the last time,” he concluded. “I want to make sure that you feel very comfortable being able to approach me and share your thoughts and your concerns with me and want to make sure you know I work for you.”