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Hits & Misses

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River Obstruction
Utah is one of two Western states that has no rivers designated as “wild and scenic.” It isn’t because we don’t have and rivers worth protecting. Instead, it’s a knee-jerk reaction of Utah politicians against anything that smacks of conservation. Nearly 40 years after passage of the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Utah is finally stepping up to the plate to get some of its waterways on the federal list. Designation doesn’t put rivers off-limits to farmers or fisherman; it merely blocks the most harmful development. Only two Utah river segments are likely to be considered, however. And friendly forces in the Bush administration have rewritten rules on Utah’s behalf that will make it hard to get future scenic river designations anywhere in the nation.

Hatch’s Heart
About 45,000 of Utah’s poorest children remain uninsured despite qualifying for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, largely because of a lack of money for the program. Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, is backing a $35 million increase for the program over the next five years. That’s smaller than the $50 million congressional Democrats want, but a significant boost for the program sadly failing to deliver on a decade-old promise to care for the most vulnerable. Asking for the money, Hatch broke ranks with President George W. Bush, who is threatening to veto an increase. Mike Leavitt, Utah’s former governor, now U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, explains that the proposed CHIP increase is a “radical” plot for government takeover of healthcare.

Gentlemen Farmers
How essential to the nation’s food security are federal farm subsidies if the farmer on the receiving end doesn’t even know he’s getting the payout? That is the case for “farmer” Larry H. Miller who received $239,000 over 10 years for not planting on land he owned in Idaho. Miller claimed he didn’t know he was getting the money and backs a proposal from the U.S. House to get rid of the subsidy when its going to people making more than $1 million a year. Utah’s other rich farmers include billionaire James Sorenson, who received $600,000 during the 10 years studied by a Washington, D.C., watchdog organization.

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