ST. GEORGE – Rep. Chris Stewart paid a visit to his field office in St. George Thursday night for an open house where constituents were able to meet the Republican congressman representing Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.
Attendees to the open house crowded into Stewart’s St. George office at 253 West St. George Boulevard shortly before 5 p.m. for an opportunity to ask questions and perhaps have a short one-on-one conversion with their representative.
Among questions asked by constituents were the following:
The Affordable Care Act
Also called “Obamacare” by its critics, an open house attendee asked if anything could be done to get rid of the health care law.
As the Republicans currently control just “one-half of one-third of the government,” Stewart said, getting rid of the ACA altogether wasn’t likely. However, he did say the bill could be chipped away, as the Republican-held House continues to vote on measures denying the ACA additional funding.
In a meeting with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Stewart said Ryan predicted “Obamacare is going to collapse underneath its own weight.”
The reason for this would be because of something called “rate-shock.”
Rate-shock is to become one of the new political buzz-words like “fiscal cliff” and “sequester” in oncoming discussions. Why? Rate-shock, Stewart said, is what will happen when people with health insurance see their rates jump between 20 and 80 percent due to the ACA.
The Affordable Care Act goes into effect the beginning of 2014, though the rate-shock Stewart anticipates could occur in the second half of this year, he said.
Utah’s public lands
An inquiry into what Stewart may be doing at the national level to aid Utah in its bid for its public lands was also put forth.
Stewart pointed to the 2013 Utah Land Sovereignty Act, the first piece of legislation he wrote and introduced to the House in February. The bill would make Utah exempt from the Antiquities Act that was used by former Pres. Bill Clinton in the creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
If passed, Utah would join Alaska and Wyoming on the exemption list.
Stewart said he supported marriage as it is traditionally defined as between a man and a woman.
“I’m one of those traditionalists,” he said. However, he also said he was in favor of civil unions, but not a redefinition of marriage itself.
As for worries held by religious circles that fear a sweeping legalization of same-sex marriage will cause infringements into religious freedoms, Stewart said it is already happening. To illustrate his claim, he pointed to an example of a photographer being sued for discrimination over refusing to lend her services to a same-sex marriage.
“For them it’s a moral thing,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s visit to St George is a part of a statewide tour of town hall meetings that started in Sanpete County on March 27, and will conclude in Millard County April 3.
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