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Utah Senate District 8

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  • Kathleen Riebe

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    Brian Zehnder

Biographical Information

The Utah constitution allows citizens to make laws through an initiative process. What is your opinion of the initiative process and would you change it, if you could?

What actions should Utah take to promote clean air and mitigate the effects of climate change?

According to the Kem Gardner Institute, projected population growth in Utah is an increase from 3 million (in 2015) to 5.8 million by 2065. Can we maintain the quality of life we value with this amount of growth — particularly on the Wasatch Front? What about water, transportation and schools?

Many Utahns go to work when sick, potentially exposing many other people to infections. This is because nationally, 40% of service jobs—retail sales, food service, child care, etc.) do not offer paid sick leave and almost 12% of Utahns lack health care insurance. How can this problem be addressed?

The Utah State Constitution reads, in part, "Both male and female citizens of this State shall enjoy equally all civil, political and religious rights and privileges." The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Should Utah ratify the ERA which expresses the same view as the Utah Constitution? Explain your po-sition.

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Campaign Mailing Address 6108 Oak Canyon Drive
Holladay, UT 84121
Campaign Email Address
Campaign Phone (801) 330-0380
Twitter @docBrianZ
Current Employment Family Physician and Small Business Owner with Exodus Healthcare Network
Education Bachelor Science Kalamazoo College/ Wayne State University Medical School/ University of Utah Residency
Campaign Website
The initiative process allows citizen input and decision-making for issues deemed important to the voters. It is a healthy process to keep pass new laws. We must be careful, however, that special-interest groups do not use the initiative process to circumvent the legislative process. A few things we can do in the state to make this better include connecting the legislative and initiative processes, increasing disclosures of initiative funders, and re-engaging citizens in the initiative process.
Since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, there have been improvements in air quality by controlling sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides. However, there is still much to do, especially with ongoing high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the primary pollutant linked with human activities. The most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions is to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Many strategies for reducing CO2 emissions from energy are cross-cutting and apply to homes, businesses, industry, and transportation. We can increase energy efficiency by incentivizing the use of more efficient appliances. We can switch fuels by incentivizing the use of solar panels and electric vehicles. We can advance the technology of carbon capture and sequestration so that CO2 is captured and properly stored before it enters the atmosphere.
Indeed, maintaining the quality of life with the population growth we are experiencing and set to experience in the next thirty years will be a huge challenge for Utah. Our precious resources, including land and water, will be even more at risk. School systems will be stretched to capacity. Addressing these growth issues requires careful planning and forward-thinking lawmakers who have the courage to make the correct decisions based on science and data, rather than choices that may be politically-motivated.
As a family doctor, I care for people every day who work in the service industry. It breaks my heart to see others suffer from COVID and other illnesses because of their service to others. The lack of sick leave and the plight of the uninsured is simply unacceptable. In response, I created a non-profit 501c3 non-profit called the Utah Partners for Health, so that people with minor illnesses could be treated at a reduced cost in a medical clinic, rather than the emergency room, savings millions of dollars for Utah taxpayers. Creative solutions are needed to further combat these societal problems in Utah and our country.
On January 15, 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to adopt the ERA legislation, proposed in 1972, technically pushing the ERA across the threshold. And yet, there are still hurdles in the ERA’s path. The ratification deadlines that Congress set after it approved the amendment have lapsed, and five states have acted to rescind their prior approval. These raise important questions, and now it is up to Congress, the courts, and the American people to resolve them. The ERA would empower Congress to enforce gender equity through legislation and, more generally, the creation of a social framework to formally acknowledge systemic biases that permeate and often limit women’s daily experiences. It would create consistency to address the patchwork ways gender and economic inequity are often addressed in our current laws. I support the ratification of the ERA and would support Utah becoming another state to lend its support.