Weber County Commission in Huntsville 03 (copy)

Utah Rep. Steve Waldrip plans a series of town hall meetings in conjunction with the start of the Utah legislative session on Jan. 27, 2020. The first is set for Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. In this April 30, 2019, photo, Waldrip addresses the Weber County Commission at a special meeting in Huntsville.

HUNTSVILLE — Utah Rep. Steve Waldrip, a Republican from Eden, wants to hear from the public before the 2020 legislative session starts later this month.

He also wants to try to clear up what he thinks are some of the misconceptions surrounding the overhaul of Utah's tax system, approved by lawmakers last December but focus of a petition drive to force a referendum on the issue.

As such, he's hosting a series of town hall meetings starting Wednesday in Huntsville. The first meeting in Huntsville goes from 7-8 p.m. and will be held at the Ogden Valley Branch library, 131 S. 7400 East.

Additional meetings are set for Monday, Jan. 20, also at the Huntsville library; Tuesday, Jan. 21 at the Main Library at 2464 Jefferson Ave. in Ogden; and Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Harrisville city offices, 363 W. Independence Blvd. All three gatherings go from 7-8 p.m. Waldrip represents District 8, which covers the Ogden Valley, portions of eastern and northern Ogden and part of Harrisville.

Another town hall gathering is set for the evening of Jan. 27, the first day of the legislative session. That goes from 7-8 p.m., after the first day of the session ends, and will be held at the Main Library in Ogden. It will feature several other Republican Weber County lawmakers aside from Waldrip — Reps. Mike Schultz, Kelly Miles and Calvin Musselman and Sens. Ann Milner and David Buxton.

Waldrip, who voted for Senate Bill 2001, the tax reform measure, said he's been hearing misconceptions about the bill.

"I just want to make sure (constituents) have good information. There's a lot of confusion about it," he said.

The food tax has been a big focus of critics. The controversial provision raises the reduced state sales tax on food to the full state rate, from 1.75% to 4.85%, which foes say will hurt poorer Utahns. Waldrip, too, has reservations about the provision and plans to seek legislation that would allow eligible low-income Utahns to get a card that allows them to get the reduced sales tax rate on food when making purchases. S.B. 2001 allows eligible Utahns to apply for a credit to offset the food tax when filing their tax returns each year, but Waldrip seeks something that wouldn't require such a wait.

S.B. 2001 passed 43-27 in the Utah House on Dec. 12 and in the Senate by a 20-7 vote. The petition drive, if successful, would put the future of the measure to a vote, probably in a referendum question on the Nov. 3 election ballot.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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