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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Scott Sommerdorf | Salt Lake Tribune Sen. Ben McAdam, D-Salt Lake City, reads through a stack of papers while Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, stands to speak in the Utah Senate, 2/18/2010.
Editorials on legislative watch: Education and drunk driving ...

- Education funding: SB54 full of good ideas - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Sen. Ben McAdams’ bill to change the funding mechanisms for public education is a proposal with good ideas, of both substance and whimsy.

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First, the whimsy. McAdams, a Democrat, has included a provision that he surely knows will never pass. SB54 would dedicate 30 percent of future increases in sales tax revenue to public education. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Republican super majority in the Legislature last year overrode a veto to earmark the same percentage of sales tax growth to transportation.

Providing education the same earmark, only fair for a public service at least as important as transportation, would tie the hands of future legislatures. The transportation earmark was misguided and never should have become law. If McAdams is serious in trying to convince Republican legislators that public education is as deserving of such an earmark, he is fantasizing.

Another of SB54’s doomed provisions would require disclosure of any negative impact on education funding of all future state or local legislation. While this would provide needed protection for public-education funding, it will never fly. ...

... Now to the substance. McAdams’ bill would establish or re-establish a realistic "funding floor," or basic amount the state must allocate per-student to public education. ...

... McAdams’ bill is a serious attempt to protect public education funding. It deserves to be heard.

- DUI checkpoints: Don't ban without more study - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Rep. David Butterfield wants to do away with DUI checkpoints in Utah. He argues that saturation patrols are a much more effective way to get drunken drivers off the road, and the mediocre results of checkpoints do not justify their warrantless searches. He makes a persuasive case.

Utah law enforcement officers insist, however, that the deterrent effect of checkpoints is worthwhile. While they concede that saturation patrols are much more effective in generating DUI arrests, they do not want to give up checkpoints as a tool to discourage drunken driving. ...

... So far, 11 states have banned checkpoints, but the statistics on drunken driving in those states are mixed. The issue deserves more study before the Legislature acts.

- Firearm bill unnecessary - Ogden Standard-Examiner Editorial

Davis County state Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, is sponsoring a bill to allow people to legally carry a firearm without fear of being charged with disorderly conduct by police. It's a bad idea that takes away important aspects of a law enforcement officer's job, such as the ability to discern when an incident can get out of hand, and the ability to control a tense situation. ...

- 2012 approach to education - Provo Daily Herald Editorial

A bill to establish individual accounts for education purposes (HB 123) is being proposed by Rep. John Dougall of Highland. It's an idea whose time has come. It's not so much education reform as it is education enabling. Dougall deserves a medal.



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