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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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On Legislature Watch: Driver cards and building codes...

Above: This guy is the one who needs to be denied a driver card.

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- Driver cards: Keep them for illegal aliens - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

In 2005, the Legislature created a driver privilege card that allows undocumented aliens to operate a car legally in Utah. Ever since, opponents of illegal immigration have been trying to repeal it. They’re still trying. But it was good policy in 2005 and it remains so today.

Why? Because it makes the state’s roads and highways safer by encouraging people to pass the driver tests. It familiarizes people from other nations with the rules of the road. It also enables them to buy insurance.

Despite this, Sen. Steven Urquhart, R-St. George, is championing SB170, which would repeal all driver privilege cards at the end of this year and prohibit the Driver License Division from issuing any more. Urquhart argues that the cards make Utah a magnet for illegal immigration.

But it is likely that economic conditions do much more to make Utah a "magnet" than driving privilege cards do. [read more ...]

- Energy code: Update is long overdue - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

By clinging to outdated building codes, the Utah Legislature is caving in to one powerful lobby while ignoring the needs of Utah families who buy new homes and then find they are energy hogs that cost more in utility bills than the owners can pay.

Failing to adopt 2009 energy standards — already 3 years old! — is an inexcusable dereliction of our legislators’ duty to act for their constituents. The Utah Homebuilders Association is the only group opposing this move to 21st century energy standards, while polls show that, overwhelmingly, Utahns want and are willing to pay for more energy-efficient homes. ...

... Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City, is proposing in HB262 that the state adopt the 2009 International Building Code. The now uses 2006 standards, and Cox, an architect, says they lack important safety and energy upgrades. But the bill was held up by a House committee of 12 members, seven of whom have ties to real estate or construction, and likely won’t see the light of day. ...

Other legislature watchers include the opiners in Ogden and Provo, who take opposite sides of the fuss over efforts by some Utah lawmakers to take some 30 million acres of federal land:

- Ditch federal lands fight - Ogden Standard-Examiner Editorial

... Why spend precious funds to pursue a losing court case? Utah is not going to succeed in gaining control of federal lands. The Legislature's best lawyers have already informed lawmakers of that fact. Nevertheless, Don Quixote apparently rules on the Hill. More distressing, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert appears ready to play the Sancho Panza role in this effort. ... [We agree with Ogden on this one.]

- Some messages are worth sending - Provo Daily Herald Editorial

... There are grounds to believe, for example, that a lawsuit to enforce Utah's enabling act could succeed. No state east of the Mississippi has any significant amount of federal land because Washington was required to relinquish it all -- and it has. Just not in the West. If Utah could develop the energy-rich lands within its borders, our school funding problems would vanish. ...



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