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Issues that matter to Utah families

Cassandra Hernandez hugs her daughter April Vara at Palmer Court in Salt Lake City, Monday, April 30, 2012.
Cassandra Hernandez hugs her daughter April Vara at Palmer Court in Salt Lake City, Monday, April 30, 2012.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

All of us understand, at some level, that what happens in the Utah Legislature has the potential to affect our pocketbooks and our values. What happens over the next 45 days is important.

But we also know the process of legislation, in and of itself, can be complex and exasperating.

With that in mind, the Deseret News' coverage of the 2013 Utah Legislature will zero-in on effects more than process, keeping foremost in our coverage what matters to Utah families.

In preparation for this "what does it mean to you" coverage, Deseret News reporters and editors have done a lot of homework. We've hosted civic journalism panels involving a wide range of Utahns, from doctors and teachers to those serving refugees and caring for impoverished children. We've met with interest groups and think-tank wonks. We've met with elected officials and longtime government observers. We've talked to our neighbors.

And — we've listened.

Based on our grass-roots efforts, Deseret News editors have identified five key issues that matter to Utah families — issues that are interrelated and essential to continued prosperity. We present those issues to you with a promise that our legislative coverage will center on those things that matter to you. — Deseret News editors

Issues that matter to Utah families

Early childhood education

Studies show that a child's early engagement with learning — especially reading — is essential to lifelong success. Parents and families who shoulder this responsibility should expect government involvement that supports and facilitates their role.

College and career readiness

Education must help prepare students to be productive members of our society — intellectually and morally. As a student moves from grade to grade, he or she needs to be ready for the next steps of learning.

Economic development

Be they the ever-changing future of high-tech or the centuries-old art of homebuilding, Utah businesses need educated, well-trained and productive workers — and policies that encourage the free market. When families are economically stable, they can more easily turn their attention to teaching values that build a vibrant society.

Health care and family well-being

Access to health care — limited largely by costs — is essential. Innovation, compassion and common sense need to combine to create policy that encourages personal responsibility while protecting those who are especially vulnerable.

Intergenerational poverty

More than 136,000 Utah children live in poverty. Studies show that many of those children will become impoverished adults unless the cycle of poverty can be broken — for the benefit of these individuals and our society.

As part of the Deseret News' coverage of the Legislature, we're taking an in-depth look at each of the five issues during the coming week.

Monday: Early childhood education

Tuesday: College and career readiness

Wednesday: Economic development

Thursday: Health care

Friday: Intergenerational poverty