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Governor Huntsman Gives State of the State Address

Governor Huntsman Gives State of the State Address

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FILLMORE, Utah (AP) -- Gov. Jon Huntsman categorically said in his first State of the State address Tuesday that hotter nuclear waste would not be accepted in Utah, and he vowed to get legislation passed this year to ban it.

"As your governor, I will do everything in my power to keep hotter levels of nuclear waste out," according to an advance copy of Huntsman's speech.

"The most effective and permanent solution is to pass tough legislation," he said. "I will work with legislators, and by the time this legislative session is finished, we should no longer be discussing the possibility of B & C waste entering this state."

Before the election, the then-Governor-elect repeatedly said he would use the power of his office to make sure hotter waste never reached Utah.

But because Envirocare of Utah already had a conditional permit to accept such waste, environmentalists were unnerved last month when Huntsman's staff suggested he was unlikely to take extra steps to prohibit the hotter waste -- reasoning that current state law already bans it and that any added moves by Huntsman could create legal challenges.

Envirocare's facility about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City is only licensed to dispose of the least dangerous, Class A type of waste. The company has said it has no plans to use its conditional permit for the hotter waste, but it also has no plans to abandon it.

Huntsman delivered his first state address in Fillmore, site of Utah's territorial capital in the 1850s. The state Capitol is undergoing a four-year, $200 million construction project, forcing lawmakers to smaller quarters in a new state office building, which was not large enough to convene both the House and Senate for the speech.

The visit also marks a return to roots for Huntsman, who traces his ancestry to Fillmore.

In the address, Huntsman also said the state tax code, which was last overhauled in 1959 will need a hard look and some modernization in order to keep the state's economic base growing.

In particular, Huntsman wants to change the way corporate taxes are calculated, reducing the burden for some businesses.

"This can truly serve as an economic development tool to encourage entrepreneurs to keep their businesses located in our state and reinvest their capital time and time again," Huntsman said.

Huntsman also highlighted his budget requests to give state employee raises, especially for teachers. The budget also calls for more money for school supplies and for private sector partnerships to support education.

"It's time that every child had a learning environment that catered to their needs so they can have the education they deserve," Huntsman said.

Huntsman also called for a push to build the Legacy Parkway, a controversial 14-mile road through Davis County that supporters say will ease the growing traffic hassles there. He also encouraged funding other infrastructure improvements such as commuter rail to help the state avoid the gridlock that growth has brought to other states.

The new governor also pledged to improve state government by minimizing politics and maximizing service for citizens. He said he'll work for campaign-finance reform and to impose a mandatory two-year waiting period for former state officials before they can work as lobbyists.

Hours before the speech, Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, dropped by Larry's Drive-In for a chocolate marshmallow milkshake with "two spoons" for the couple to share. He embraced proprietor Larry Paxton, who said Huntsman has been visiting his establishment for all of the 24 years Larry's has been in business.

"Guess I have to call you governor now," Paxton said, pumping Huntsman's hand.

"Oh no, no, you know what to call me, it's just Jon," Huntsman said.

Afterward, the pair paid their respects to their family history at the Fillmore City Cemetery, where 43 of Huntsman's relatives, including his great-grandfather, grandfather and uncles and others are buried.

Huntsman's family roots go back to the 1850s here. Among the pictures in the Territorial Statehouse gallery are 20 of Huntman's ancestors, park curator Gordon Chatland said.

"It's kind of like a native son whose come home whose made it big," Chatland said of Huntsman's visit.

Some local family members attended the speech and helped organize and prepare a pre-speech Dutch oven dinner of chicken, potatoes and green beans for those legislators who came from Salt Lake for the address.

Citizens have been a buzz about the address for about a month, Mayor Sam Starley said.

"We are proud to have him here and to show off Fillmore to the rest of the state."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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