The Legislature's Administrative Rules Review Committee has unearthed what could be a festering disease infiltrating state government, signaling the destruction of Utah as we know it.
Many administrative rules and state statutes on the books today contain a phrase that declares the statute or rule in question shall be "liberally construed."
Not "conservatively construed," or even "moderately construed," but "liberally construed."
For example, rules governing the state Agriculture Department contain the sentence: "These rules shall be liberally construed to secure just, speedy and economic determination of all issues presented to the department."
What would Ronald Reagan say?
So, to the rescue of the Utah Constitution that possibly is hanging by a thread are the heroic protectors of conservative values in Utah, the committee's co-chairmen, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, and Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield. At its next meeting, Nov. 24, the committee will discuss the use of "liberally construed in both administrative rule and state statute," says an advisory sent to state officials attending the meeting.
"The discussion will focus on the purpose served by the phrase, and whether some or all uses of the phrase should continue or be repealed," the advisory says.
So no matter what other issues may be pressing at the Legislature this year, a priority will be purging from the sacred books of Utah that scourge, the "L" word.
So long, competition » The 60 employees of Southwest Ambulance in Salt Lake City were notified Thursday that the ambulance service is closing Dec. 20 and will cease providing emergency services in Utah's capital.
That leaves Gold Cross as the only privately held ambulance service in Salt Lake County and means Salt Lake City officials will have the choice of going with that monopoly service or providing its own ambulance service.
Southwest had indicated to city officials earlier that it may have to leave the city when its contract expires in December because it is not allowed under state law to compete with Gold Cross for the more profitable interfacility ambulance service, which transports patients between hospitals or other medical facilities. The emergency service, which is all it can provide under the law, is difficult to sustain for a for-profit company without the profits from the interfacility transport.
Southwest had hoped Salt Lake City would cut its fee for the franchise for three months, until April, when Southwest hoped a bill would be passed in the 2010 Legislature allowing for competitive bidding for interfacility transport. The city was unwilling to do that, said Southwest official Boo Heffner.
The Legislature considered a bill to allow competition at its last session, but it was defeated after heavy lobbying from general campaign contributors to legislators and political parties.
Oops, wrong party » Former Utah Sen. Patrice Arent recently received a four-page letter from the Republican National Committee thanking her for her loyal support to the Republican Party and urging her to remain committed to the GOP and help out financially however she can.
After all, the letter states, Arent must stand strong with other loyal Republicans to defeat President Barack Obama.
The Republican committee may have overlooked the fact that Arent was a Democrat in the Legislature and is the Democratic National committeewoman from Utah.