I took a trip down to the State Capitol Friday afternoon just to look around. The Legislature was in session, and I wanted to see what kind of hubbub was going on.
Very few legislators were in their House or Senate chambers, but committee meetings were cooking all over the place. I noticed several familiar Davis County faces, including County Commissioner Dannie McConkie, Layton Mayor Jerry Stevenson, and Senator Greg Bell of Fruit Heights.
Bell was chairing a committee session that was debating some sensitive issues regarding the competency of certain people to stand trial or to be executed.
In the portion that I heard, it was pointed out that while doctors are generally willing to certify whether people are mentally competent to stand trial, they are loathe to certify that a convicted murderer is competent to be executed, should a question arise after trial.
Most of us don't think of such conundrums, but witnesses pointed out that a doctor who certifies that a prisoner is competent to be executed is essentially condemning him or her to death, which runs counter to the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.
This issue was just one of the many complicated and weighty matters being discussed on Capitol Hill. I was also informed that in a nearby committee meeting things became rather heated during a discussion of UTOPIA.
I can believe that this seemingly routine issue can become volatile based on the letters and comments I've received this week. Some feel the whole thing is a big conspiracy that will leave taxpayers holding the bag. Others tell me that criticism of UTOPIA is being fomented by jealous competitors who want a slice of the pie.
At any rate, this will be a hot issue for some, while it will be a snoozer for those who aren't affected. We'll look more into this and get back to you.
The Legis-lature is also grappling with proposals to limit state interference due to the fallout of last year's Parker Jensen case, with guns in schools and churches, with elimination of the firing squad, with the issue of athletic transfers, with bans on gay marriage -- and many more.
Most of us don't really pay much attention to what goes on with the Legislature because much of its work is frankly tedious and lacks a little pizzazz -- yet we often loudly complain when laws don't meet with our approval.
What I observed Friday was that a lot of people are working hard and listening to a lot of complicated and tedious testimony to make things operate for the state. There are frankly more interesting ways to spend a day, but our legislators will be spending more of them before they're through.
I would suggest that everyone take some time to watch parts of a legislative session to get the feel of what goes on. Then let your legislators know what you think about issues that are important to you.
We often denigrate the hard work that our legislators put in without seeing the complexity of their jobs or feeling the weight of decisions they have to make.
As is true of voting, if we don't take part in the political process, we have no one to blame for the outcomes but ourselves.