What we learned….

Chatting about Trains
Justin Jones, Manager of Government Relations at UTA and Representative Jay Seegmiller, Amtrak conductor, talking trains.

The Utah Senate and House Democrats traveled by UTA (Utah Transit Authority) bus visiting various businesses and organizations in the Salt Lake County area in an effort to understand more fully the issues confronting Utah’s businesses and industries.   This is the first bus tour of 2009, and after the legislative session, the Democrats will continue their visits in other locales in Utah.

The bus tour began with a trip north to Farmington where we boarded the FrontRunner commuter train and returned to Salt Lake Central Station where Trax and FrontRunner converge for passengers transferring to and from one mode of public transportation to another.

Accompanying the senators and representatives were John Inglish, General Manager of UTA, Justin Jones, Manager of Government Relations, and Ralph Jackson, Deputy Chief of Major Program Development.  UTA serves 6 counties, reaches approximately 2 million people, spans 130 miles by 20 miles, employs 2,000 people, and carries 38 million passengers per year.  Along with UTA’s many successful transportation projects already in operation, there are numerous additional light rail and commuter rail projects in the works.

Electronic Fare Collection was introduced at the first of this month by UTA.  Just tap your electronic card to a reader located at any door of a bus or on a train platform.  Tap on. Tap off.  Tap your annual pass or contactless credit/debit card on the reader when you board and tap it again when you get off.

The train ride was S-M-O-O-O-T-H and comfortable.  If you’ve been a FrontRunner passenger, you’ll know what we’re talking about!  How about boarding FrontRunner, riding north, dining at a restaurant close to the station, and then returning home—a great idea for an enjoyable weekend experience.

FrontRunner Arrives at Station
FrontRunner arrives at the Station

Riding FrontRunner
John Inglish, General Manager of UTA, at right

Seating on FrontRunner
Senator McCoy, Bill Barnes, Government Relations Director, Primary Children’s
Medical Center, Senator Romero and Senator Robles

FrontRunner
Ralph Jackson, Deputy Chief of Major Program Development, UTA, with
Senator Mayne, Senator Morgan, Representative Poulson and Representative Beck

Next stop on the tour was the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.  Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Chamber (and former state senator and senate president), and his staff gave us an overview of the exciting City Creek Center, a walkable urban community of residences, offices, and retail stores on approximately 20 acres across three blocks in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.  The project completion date is 2012.

It’s difficult to adequately describe this magnificent project, so check out the details of the City Creek Center at www.downtownrising.com.  Take the virtual tour, and don’t miss the retractable roof, which will shelter the crowd from precipitation.

Lane Beattie at Chamber
Lane Beattie, President and CEO of the Chamber, Speaks to the Legislators

We thank the Chamber for sharing this information.  And we thank the LDS Church for developing and building this splendid project in our capital city.  Every Utahn should be proud!

Then tour guides from the Chamber took us to a number of locations under development in Salt Lake City.   According to our Chamber tour guide, top priorities for the Chamber for moving forward as a thriving metropolis include (1) liquor laws conducive to economic development, (2) development of a super-size hotel (1,000 rooms) near the Salt Palace so the city can compete for convention business, and (3) a cultural district.

Last stop on the tour was a visit to the new Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.  The new CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, Dr. Charles Sorenson, made a presentation to the legislators in the Jon and Karen Huntsman Cancer Center.

Presentation at Medical Center
Dr. Charles Sorenson Addressing the Group

Dr. Charles Sorenson, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare
Dr. Charles Sorenson and Senator Luz Robles

Intermountain Healthcare is committed to three guiding principles:

1.    Implementing clinical Best Practices (which reduce medical costs).
2.    Providing high quality health care at the lowest possible cost.
3.     Providing the best care possible regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.

Intermountain Healthcare’s innovative electronic medical records system provides system-wide integration of patient histories and facilitates its ability to provide high quality health care.  Its records system is respected in Utah and outside of Utah.

Interestingly, Dr. Sorenson recommended that the Legislature not cut Medicaid (due to the loss of the federal $3 match and the resultant cost shift to businesses) and recommended keeping deductibles at reasonable levels (higher deductibles encourage people to neglect preventive care and to postpone needed care until it advances to more serious problems that are more expensive to treat).  For years Democrats have questioned the wisdom in cutting Medicaid.

Exiting Intermountain Medical Center
Senator Karen Mayne and Alan Dayton, Director of Government Relations for Intermountain Healthcare, exiting the Jon and Karen Huntsman Cancer Center

We express our appreciation to our wonderful hosts on the tour, and our thanks, as well, to the Judiciary for lunch and the information they presented to us.

Then it’s back to the Capitol….and they’re still talking trains.

More Talk about Trains

2 thoughts on “What we learned….

  1. Because every Utahn has been impacted negatively by the faltering economy, perhaps the Utah legislature could join the rest of us by making some changes in their remunerations. We all know that you work hard at what you do for the state, but also, it is called “serving” our state. Service involves monetary sacrifices as well as sacrifices of time.

    1. Rescind any COLA from last year–certainly the rest of us have had to.

    2. Cut back on your food per-diem.

    3. Those who do not require a housing per-diem could return that fund to the state coffers.

    4. Check into the life-long health benefits and retirement funds received by those who have served.

    5. Look into what it means to “serve” our state, not be served by the state.

    6. How can I get these same suggestions to the Republicans who need this more than you do?

    7. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Utah could lead all legislatures in doing this. Think of the jobs that might be saved, the unemployment that could be paid, the meals that might go to the hungry if every legislature would do such a thing.

    8. This would begin what President Obama has presented to loyal Americans. Great possibilities!!!

  2. Great post and absolutely wonderful pictures. I’m glad to see Utah Government, specifically Democrats, getting out and talking with Utah business owners. I have not been on FrontRunner yet, but it looks very nice. Hopefully it’s getting the same traction as Trax has so far.

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