Hits & Misses | Utah Unions, Lobbyist Gifts & SLC Gays | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
We need your help.

Newspapers and media companies nationwide are closing or suffering mass layoffs since the coronavirus impacted all of us starting in March. City Weekly's entire existence is directly tied to people getting together in groups--in clubs, restaurants, and at concerts and events--which are the industries most affected by new coronavirus regulations.

Our industry is not healthy. Yet, City Weekly has continued publishing thanks to the generosity of readers like you. Utah needs independent journalism more than ever, and we're asking for your continued support of our editorial voice. We are fighting for you and all the people and businesses hardest hit by this pandemic.

You can help by making a one-time or recurring donation on PressBackers.com, which directs you to our Galena Fund 501(c)(3) non-profit, a resource dedicated to help fund local journalism. It is never too late. It is never too little. Thank you. DONATE

News » Hits & Misses

Hits & Misses | Utah Unions, Lobbyist Gifts & SLC Gays

by

comment

hit.gif
Union’s Due
Score one for Utah unions, specifically the Utah Education Association, which won a recent court battle upholding the right to a level political playing field. Utah legislators refuse to accept any limits on how much money they can raise for their campaign war chests. But in 2001, these same lawmakers passed a law to stop the teachers union from raising lobbying money. If that sounds unfair, that’s how it sounded to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which recently slapped down a 2001 law that banned schoolteachers from contributing lobbying money to their union through paychecks. Federal judges called the Utah law an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment—a guarantee of free speech that is still the law. Even in Utah.

miss.gif
Gifted Lawmakers
Among $250,000 in lobbyist gifts, Utah legislators last year enjoyed Jazz games, concerts, golf, hunting trips, out-of-state junkets, and even a go-cart race, according to studies of lobbyists’ reports by Salt Lake City’s two daily newspapers. Weren’t recent years’ legislative ethics rule changes supposed to stop this sort of thing? Lobbyists must now report all gifts to lawmakers worth more than $50. In theory, that should shame legislators out of accepting extravagant trips. But there is seemingly no rule lobbyists can’t find their way around. (More than half of gift recipients remain secret.) And some legislators have no shame: Two Democrats took a fact-finding golf trip to Florida on the dime of a mental-health company that wants Utah to privatize the state hospital.

hit.gif
Domestic Bliss
Hooray, Salt Lake City’s gays may soon qualify … for discounts at city recreation facilities. A domestic-partner registry, which Mayor Ralph Becker announced on his third day in office, is mostly symbolic. But, in Utah, it’s a real step forward. The city recorder would keep the list, to which unmarried couples could append their names. It wouldn’t come with health insurance or other benefits. It would give a government stamp to relationships that well-meaning private employers might otherwise be shy about honoring in benefit packages. Also on Becker’s agenda: a hate-crimes law, retirement benefits for partners of city workers and requiring for companies doing business with the city to provide domestic-partner benefits.