Bring Your own Facts
It's official: Facts are now optional. Utah legislators and much of the populace are so ready to believe whatever they want. "You know, we're all entitled to our own facts. Doctors are entitled to their own facts," Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, said on yet another abortion notification bill. You know, for those poor, uninformed women who now risk being more uninformed if Planned Parenthood funding gets scrapped. And Bramble, being a man with no medical background, is the right person for this legislation. In a screed about federalism, he faced the camera to say, "Ladies, there weren't any women in the room" during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Bramble was basing his abortive facts on the "truthiness" of anti-abortion doctor George Delgado, whose "abortion pill reversal" technique has been widely discredited, as a ThinkProgress article noted. But you never know, do you? It's like the lottery. You might win.
Jumping the Gun
This session saw another bill bolstering the idea that concealing a gun is just good for everyone. This bill, from well-meaning mind of Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, seeks to allow 18-year-olds to hide their pieces. Lisonbee testified that a couple of college-age women asked for the law, you know, because most college campuses don't allow students to open-carry their guns. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, cited a Justice Department study that said up to 25 percent of college-aged women would be raped during their college years. While there are competing studies on how to prevent rape, the emphasis has been on women—the don't-get-raped message—rather than men—don't rape. Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake, offered statistics about guns being the primary method of suicide among teens. But that wasn't a fact the Senate wanted to hear.
It's not like Utah's two daily newspapers went to different Legislatures, but you might not know that from the headlines. The front page of the Deseret News proclaimed the 2017 session was "kinder" and "gentler." The Salt Lake Tribune saw a "peekaboo session," as lawmakers chose "efficiency over transparency" with "limited discussion." They're both right, but kinder and gentler might not be what the public needs if it means closed caucuses and unilateral decision-making. The discussions were limited because the opposition party is limited. But let's go back to Curt Bramble and his video on federalism. He said the "miracle" of the Constitution was that 55 men with very different opinions could sit in the same room and hammer out a solution. That, of course, was then.