Opinionated @ CFE

Masterful Maneuvering on HB477


Hearing the absolute uproar over the proposed changes to GRAMA in HB477, the Legislature decided to recall the bill. Unfortunately, the only thing changed was the implementation date to July 1, 2011 with a promise to rework it in a special session before the implementation deadline. This may sound like some kind of victory, but it’s really a piece of masterful work to create leverage.

See, anyone wanting to totally kill HB477 is pretty much SOL. If the Legislature decides to not pass any replacement legislation in a special session, the bill stands. That’s leverage against any changes they don’t like including killing the bill entirely. With that kind of threat dangling over their heads, why wouldn’t opponents agree to many more compromises than before to avoid that outcome? They simply wouldn’t.

I don’t like it at all. That kind of maneuvering is terrible policy-making and a far inferior solution to pulling back and working with the public to come up with something better. So what if media bosses are trying to game the process to eliminate the concept of off-the-record communication? Now that the public is focused on the process like a laser, could they really get away with any kind of shenanigans? I’m betting not.

Legislators, please show a bit more faith in the process, no matter how flawed it can sometimes be. I think you owe us that much.

SB239: We could stand to raise the gas tax


One of the proposals before the Legislature this year is to increase the gas tax. That’s one of those sure-fire ways to provoke a strong reaction since we’re all pretty sensitive about the cost of driving. That said, I don’t think it’s really an increase. And at the risk of putting any kind of future electability in complete peril, I don’t have a problem with it at all.


Some Perspective on HB477


If the Utah Legislature was looking for a way to unite people across the political spectrum, HB477 was a great way to do it. Unfortunately for them, it united everyone against the Legislature in a rather loud cacophony, present company included. The bill went from introduced to passed by both houses in just three days with the stipulation that it take effect as soon as it’s signed instead of after the normal sixty days. This alone prompted a strong negative reaction, never mind what the bill actually does: classifying many types of communication as “conversations” rather than “records” and thus not subject to the state’s GRAMA laws, Utah’s version of the Freedom of Information Act. This really doesn’t sound like a whole lot of good.


SJR1 and SJR9 are Bad Policy


I’m a big fan of local control for practical reasons. You often get elected officials that are much more responsive and in-tune with the needs of their constituents. Bad decisions are contained to a much smaller effective area and experimentation with good ideas leads to more of them. When elected leaders fail to make good decisions or respond to the needs of the people, the “throttle factor” is often much better with your city council member than a state or federal representative.

We’ve seen this play out on the federal level for decades now. Bad decisions made at that level affect everyone rather than just a limited subset of the populace. The all-or-nothing gamesmanship often leads to contradictory laws and policies that are confusing and keep either from actually prevailing. Our state legislature often rails upon these failings, but now they’re turning around and doing the exact same thing to the cities and counties.


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