Short takes on the news
Too many laws • Although it seems improbable, a top legislator is suggesting that she and her fellow lawmakers are passing too many laws. Remember the old joke: Never blame legislators for not doing anything; it's when they do something that they become dangerous. Well, House Speaker Becky Lockhart apparently agrees somewhat with that. She chided Gov. Gary Herbert for not saving her team from itself by wielding his veto pen more often. She said that "we'll add another 200 pages of code to the 200 pages we added last year. That's on top of the thousands and thousands of pages already on the books. Do we really want to keep doing that? Really? Really?" She's got a point. Let's get more selective, lawmakers, please. And while you're at it, forget the worthless message bills.
Efficient bureaucracy • The offices and staffs of state agencies exist to serve the needs of Utah citizens. But those needs aren't the same from one area of the state to another. For that reason, a bill being considered by the Legislature makes some sense. It would allow state offices to be open fewer days or hours and to have more services available online and by telephone. Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, explained that his SB112 would give more flexibility to rural communities where the small population probably doesn't demand full-time office hours. Elderly residents and Medicaid recipients who don't have access to a computer could either do their business with the agencies during limited office hours or perhaps get help to use a library or senior-center computer. The bill wouldn't require any change but would let state agencies in particular communities tailor services for their particular needs.
List of mentally ill • A national database is only as good as its data is complete. Utah and more than 20 other states have undermined the usefulness of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by refusing to send the names of their residents who have been adjudicated as mentally ill. The database is used for background checks on gun buyers. Fortunately, Utah has recently sent more than 10,000 names to NICS that had been kept previously in only a statewide database. That meant a person who should be prohibited from owning a gun could simply go to another state that did not have access to Utah's database. Utah's participation will help keep guns out of the hands of people whose mental illness makes them dangerous. All states should do likewise.