Finally, Gov. Huntsman has found something to do with his monstrous approval rating: Get rid of the private club membership system. In recent meetings with state tourism officials, the governor noted weird liquor laws were one of the main obstacles keeping the Beehive State’s already important tourist economy from becoming huge. Huntsman was pushed to announce support for overturning the private-club law by the Utah Hospitality Association, a coalition of bar owners that recently filed an initiative petition to put the fate of private clubs on the 2010 ballot. The governor says having the Legislature change the law when it next meets in January is a much simpler solution. Barkeeps and tourism officials should keep up the pressure until that happens.
A coalition of good government groups rates Utah’s system for disclosing who is financing political campaigns the 45th worst in the country. The Campaign Disclosure Project notes Utah keeps last-minute donations secret until after elections are over and doesn’t require donors to list their employers. That makes it easier for a business mogul trying to buy political favors to skirt donation limits by having company employees donate en masse to a single candidate—something that appears to have occurred in Salt Lake County’s previous district attorney race. The Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office, which oversees campaign finance, is working on new software. Meanwhile, donations from Utah’s attorney general keep mysteriously disappearing from the state’s existing campaign-finance Website.
Utah’s rural county commissioners can take the wooden stakes out of the back of their trucks. A federal judge has ruled the practice of putting up road signs inside federally protected wilderness is illegal. Upset by the creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in their back yards, Kane County officials erected 39 county road signs inside the monument, essentially inviting cars to travel on land the federal government wants to protect as roadless wilderness. U.S. District Judge Tina Campbell wrote the signs were a declaration that county law trumps federal law—which it doesn’t. The only recourse now left to the Sagebrush Rebellion might be seceding from the union.