Why, you ask? Why, indeed. The Legislature refused to pass bills that just made sense, but apparently struck at the heart of their ideological sensibilities. Let's start with the most in-your-face slap at women—the Equal Rights Amendment, despite 70% of Utahns approving it. You know, lawmakers don't really care if legislation is meaningless. Take their full-on abortion ban law. It wouldn't go into effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court undermined Roe v. Wade. The ERA is similar. Already the requisite 38 states have approved the amendment, and yet it faces massive legal hurdles before being ratified. Still, they managed to pass several anti-female laws this session besides that Just Say No to Abortion Bill. They're also requiring women to decide whether to bury or cremate their fetal remains because, they firmly believe, women aren't intelligent enough to know what they want. That is, unless they are in the Nevada Legislature where a majority finally rules.
On to the idiots who decided driving while texting was just a great idea. Absolutely, they would not outlaw the use of cell phones, although the official line was, gee whiz, there wasn't enough time. But wait. What about drinking and driving? That was such a priority that the Legislature dropped the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content to .05% in 2018. As far back as 2009, the National Safety Council called on legislatures to ban the use of cell phones while driving because, wait for it, studies show it's as dangerous as driving drunk. And yet, we live in Utah where the Word of Wisdom trumps good sense. What are the counter-arguments? It's a personal choice and it's too hard to enforce. But three of every four Utahns say make it the law, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Apparently, they are not our lawmakers.
Arent's Swan Song
Rather than spend too much time denigrating the Legislature, let's talk about a few important bills that passed. First, school breakfast. It was on-again-off-again, as legislators defeated and then revived the Start Smart program for students in need. This bill was pregnant with ideological rationale—from parental responsibility to distrust of the federal dollar—and yet rather than let kids starve, lawmakers passed it. Second comes Rep. Patrice Arent's death knell for the straight-ticket ballot. This bill sends the signal that voters can be trusted to choose candidates among various parties. It might have been a gift to the retiring Arent, according to the Trib, but it was a gift for voters, too. And one last bill: Cultural Stewardship Amendments finally puts some teeth in enforcement of vandalism of pictographs and other archeological gems. See, they're not all bad.