Utah Policy's Bob Bernick has a way of making you abandon all hope in our Legislature. He recently pointed out that lawmakers really, really want to make laws and anticipate filing somewhere around 1,000 bills. Now, not all of them will be public—yet. You know how legislators like to keep things under wraps because they wouldn't want to hear from you before the thinking's been done. Just let this sink in: 1,000 bills about 1,000 issues that surely will impact you. Better yet, one unidentified legislator might have filed up to 82 bills. Utah, we know, is an anything-goes state, but there are many others that limit the number of bills per session—anywhere from two to infinity. Freewheeling states like Illinois introduced—hold on—about 9,000 bills between December 2014 and 2015, according to the MultiState website. For some, limits are a matter of fiscal responsibility. You'd think Utah would like that.
It's been mentioned that governments need to be more open. Get it? Open? That's because they're doing the people's business with the people's money. The Salt Lake Tribune pointed this out in spades with a story about how Real Salt Lake got a huge tax break from Sandy by just being quiet little lobbyists. You might recall U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly saying he doesn't remember various important things. Well, neither does the entire Salt Lake County Council. It must be an epidemic. Gee, did they agree to cut Real's tax bill by about half a million dollars? It took an open-records request to find this out. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes doesn't like those pesky records requests, either. He's fighting public disclosure of his legal opinion in this year's special congressional race. Maybe he forgot what it was.
Hold Your Breath
It's hard to know who or what to blame for the toxic mess that is Utah air. When the Legislature's in session, it's usually motor vehicles. Sometimes you hear about MagCorp, oil refineries and other industrial polluters. Now The Salt Lake Tribune puts the blame squarely on Kennecott Utah Copper and its lead-filled emissions. That pushes Utah's toxic rating way up. While it might be a temporary phenomenon, it's hard to assess who has been affected. Utah is about to enter the annual inversion season, and public officials will be pretty much ignoring it. "Should you be worried?" one Trib commenter asked. "Only if you breathe."