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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 legislative watch: Keeping them stupid ...

Above: Official theme song of the Utah Legislature? [Yes, I know. Satirizing Devo is kind of redundant]

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The majority of the Utah Legislature wants you - or, at least, your children - to be as dumb as they are:

- Shameful vote: Class-size reduction bill needed - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

The Legislature should have passed SB31, a much-needed bill to shrink class sizes in kindergarten through third grade. Instead, a coterie of Republicans in the Utah House derailed the bill with a lame excuse about fitting it into the budget.

The Senate passed Sen. Karen Morgan’s bill 19-9, a substantial margin. Even Sen. Howard Stephenson, a perennial critic of new education spending on targeted programs, spoke in favor of the bill in committee. Still, voices like that of Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, who obviously fails to see the connection between academic success and more one-on-one classroom instruction, carried the day. The committee killed SB31, not even allowing it to be debated on the House floor. That’s a shameful display of partisan politics, and made worse by the desperate need for this legislation. ...

But some folks are fighting back:

- Getting the facts: Alternative sex-ed filling gap - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

If some über-conservative Utah legislators had their way, no public school child would learn anything about sexual health in the classroom. But, thanks to the Utah Department of Health and community groups from Brigham City to Moab, parents who want their children to learn accurate information from a professional have an alternative.

Comprehensive sex-ed classes are being funded by federal grants through health department officials, who see the results of ignorance about sex, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. The program is especially needed in Utah, as public schools are prohibited from providing detailed information. ...

- Lobbying with tax dollars - Ogden Standard-Examiner Editorial

A Davis County Tea Party-related interest group, Citizens for Tax Fairness, is pushing the Legislature to change its rules so taxpayers do not fund lobbyists. It's an argument that needs to be heard more often. ...

Ours, of course, is not the only legislature that needs careful watching:

- Let each college decide on guns - Denver Post Editorial

... The debate would bring the intransigents out on both sides. We don't think it's their business, quite frankly, to decide this school safety matter. Universities should have that authority, just as those who run K-12 schools and county courthouses do. ...

- Forestalling the future, betting on tomorrow - Idaho Statesman Editorial

The Idaho Legislature doesn’t do longview thinking very well — especially when it comes to taxes. Last week, that short-range mentality was on full display, as House members made two votes that place this body’s 2012 imprint on the state’s tax code. ...

- Governor has the right idea - Arizona Republic Editorial

There are passionate arguments for saving every dime of state money. ... But there are also immediate needs that cannot wait. Arizona's overloaded and underfunded child-welfare system represents one of those crying needs. ...

- He's lining his pockets with taxpayers money - Arizona Republic Editorial

Rep. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

And he is living in a dream world where he gets to sponsor the laws that help him earn his living. It's time to wake up. ...

- Ban firework sales to avoid catastrophe - Prescott (Ariz.) Daily Courier Editorial

- Senate earthquake should change state budget landscape - Seattle Times Editorial

Editor's note: Monday's lead editorial was omitted from some editions because of a production error. We are running it again today, because we really, really mean it. ...



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