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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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(Tribune File Photo) Lake Powell.
Legislature watch: We may owe Utah lawmakers an apology ...

A friend writes, pointing out that Utah's lawmakers, no matter how many wacky ideas they seem to have, may have been topped by their opposite numbers in Wyoming. Viz:

- The end of the world as we know it -- and Wyo feels fine - Casper News-Tribune Editorial

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Might as well crack out the tin foil hats, folks.

They’re good for when the black helicopters start spying on Wyoming residents.

It seems Wyoming has turned conspiracy into legitimacy.

To wit: House Bill 85 which is being considered currently in Cheyenne. It studies how Wyoming will print its own currency and strong-arm its citizens for what apparently is the inevitable collapse of the federal government. This bill would mean Cheyenne could step in to restore the order when Washington, D.C. can’t.

While crackpot conspiracy theories are nothing new in the age of the Internet, it’s a little sad to see so many of our elected state leaders hop on the fringe bandwagon. ...

Other fresh points in the annual Legislature Watch:

- Soak the taxpayer: Water earmark is bad policy - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

If Utah legislators keep earmarking growth of sales-tax revenues for specific purposes, they are soon going to run out of livestock. And state government is going to run out of money to provide services as the state’s population expands.

The latest earmarking scheme would set aside 15 percent of growth in sales-tax revenues for water projects beginning in 2015. ...

... That’s where Sen. John Valentine comes in. He has introduced SB78, which would cause the Legislature’s revenue and tax committee to study water financing, particularly the fact that property taxes hide the true cost of water to consumers and distort water allocation. If the true price of water were reflected in consumers’ bills, they would conserve much more, and the "need" for billion-dollar projects like the Lake Powell Pipeline could be delayed, if not eliminated. ...

- Dunce cap - Spending cap unneeded and unwise - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

The Utah Senate Thursday advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that said, in effect, that the Utah Legislature cannot be trusted. If this measure had made it through the Legislature and onto the ballot, that would have been so.

Senate Joint Resolution 22 would be the best evidence to date that our lawmakers will bow to political pressure and make very bad decisions. A couple of the senators said as much, admitting that they were voting for something they knew was a foolish idea for fear of being painted as big-spenders if they didn’t.

Friday, those senators were saved from themselves when the sponsor of SJR22, Sen. Stuart Reid, without explanation, pulled the measure from consideration. Now those who voted for the amendment can brag they took a bold stand against spending, without having to subject their constituents to the horrific impact such a limit would really have. ...

- Medicircus: State takeover a bad idea - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

In their campaign to secede from federal health-care reform, arch-conservatives in the Legislature are pushing a scheme to wrest control of health-care regulation from Washington and vest it in a compact of states. In any atmosphere other than the tea party politics of today, this would be considered a joke.

SB208 would ask Congress "to return the authority to regulate health care to the member states." This would give the states in the compact the power to opt out of the federal Affordable Care Act, pejoratively known as Obamacare. ...

... This bill is political grandstanding of the first order. ...

- Financial literacy an important key to successful marriage, family - Deseret News Editorial

Less than half — 48 percent — of high school seniors know that paying only the minimum balance on a credit card costs more in annual finance charges than paying the balance in full. ...

... So it's puzzling that Rep. Merlynn Newbold, R-West Jordan, wants to drop the requirement that high school students in Utah complete a half-credit course in general financial literacy in order to graduate. ...

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