CYCLOPS: The good, bad and ugly of the 2018 legislative session

The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.

While there are some refreshing breezes coming from the Utah Legislature’s 2018 season, there are other signs that Utahns should hide their wallets and purses from prying politicians.

Every legislative session has its good, its bad, and its ugly.  This year’s is no different.

Let’s start with the ugly.  A veteran senator is contemplating a bill to ban new immigrants from receiving state health care assistance.  Helping people pay for doctors and hospitals, he says, is too much socialism for his taste.

OK, he’s surely no socialist, but I’m not sure how he can call himself a Christian either. Few immigrants land in Utah and quickly earn an office suite or even a job with full benefits.  Most new immigrants face severe challenges from speaking fluent English to learning the ins and outs of the culture to finding suitable housing and employment.  They are at their most vulnerable as they try to adapt to a new homeland, and this senator wants to pile on and limit their access to a doctor.

Then there’s the bad, including a bill preventing doctors from performing abortions when the pregnant woman is told her baby suffers from Down syndrome.  I understand the parents of Down syndrome children who honestly and tearfully say they feel blessed parenting a child with limitations, but as long as abortion is legal in the U.S., I don’t think it is the job of a Utah legislator to dictate to couples facing an excruciating decision.

Even worse, passage of this bill carries a price tag for taxpayers.  Opponents are already poised to file a costly lawsuit, and the legislature’s own legal experts agree the bill may well be unconstitutional.  The expected retort from its supporters: “We don’t care. There are things more important than money.”  That’s fine, except it’s not their money. It’s the taxpayer who will foot the bill and likely lose.

The bad, the ugly – and how about the silly? A Utah County legislator known for his anti-alcohol views is sponsoring a bill giving drunks the legal protection to shoot people if the inebriated person feels threatened.  Call me crazy, but after five shots of bourbon and a few beer chasers, I’m not sure any drunk is in a position to determine what is and isn’t threatening!

But there is also the good.  There is a bill from a Davis County legislator to provide some 11,000 low-income women with birth control to avoid unplanned pregnancies.  The sponsor, a physician, correctly recognizes that it’s much cheaper to pay for a pill than to shoulder long-term welfare costs, an obvious savings to taxpayers (and a relief to women).

Another taxpayer-friendly bill would accurately figure the formidable costs of executions, a needed component of future discussions on capital punishment.  Also legislators are reviewing ways to meet highway and road infrastructure spending instead of kicking the can down the road when construction/repairs are more costly.

Whether you agree or not, don’t write to me. Contact your legislator.  Some of them will actually listen to you.


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