The state of Utah has the best bond rating possible, hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in the transportation fund and a significant projected revenue shortfall. Gov. Gary Herbert recognized this in his 2010 budget proposal released Dec. 11, and is proposing bonds for transportation projects so that the cash originally allocated to them can be used for other needed state programs such as education and human services. He is also urging legislators to tap the rainy day fund and use one-time money to fund ongoing programs. All of these decisions make sense. Then again, the legislative session hasn’t even begun yet, so there is a lot of time for state leaders to find ways to turn common sense on its head.
A decade ago, scientists were optimistic that syphilis could be eradicated in the United States. But now, syphilis cases are rising again, including in Salt Lake County. Health experts point to reasons such as the use of the Internet for anonymous sexual encounters and a general lack of concern among younger populations about sexually transmitted diseases for the rising rates. Another possible cause is a lack of sex education, something that Rep. Lynn Hemingway, D-Salt Lake City, will try to address during the 2010 Legislature with a bill to implement a two-track sex ed curriculum. While sex ed may not actually eliminate STDs, it would help. But Utah legislators seem content to maintain the current sexual education program in the state’s schools, which primarily consists of students and parents burying their heads in the sand.
Dog owners in Salt Lake County could soon face fines if they do not give their animals at least the semblance of freedom. A proposed ordinance, which the County Council discussed Dec. 15, would allow animal control to issue citations if a dog is left on a chain for more than 10 hours at a stretch. It is a law that will not be used primarily as a deterrent, but is an important protection for dogs, especially on extremely hot or cold days. Now, if only rules could be put in place to prevent parents from putting their children on tethers when they take them to crowded places.