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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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Editorial Dreams/Legislative Reality ...

Deja vu all over again?

Interesting that Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart would complain that the Senate wasn’t willing to give her idea for a high-tech makeover of Utah public schools any more than "change out of the couch cushions."

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That’s a good description of what the Legislature — under Lockhart’s leadership — has been able to cough up for public education over each of the last several years.

Viz:

‘Extra’ school funding wasn’t nearly enough — Tribune Editorial, 2/12/14

" ... The additional revenue legislators funneled to education last year sounds like a lot of money — especially when politicians want credit for being champions of schools and kids — and it is. But those hundreds of millions don’t get spent on teacher training or higher pay for excellent teaching, for smaller classes or more help for struggling students, as Tribune reporters discovered. It simply maintained the status quo. ..."

Some other issues just keep coming up:

Campaign gifts — Tribune Editorial, 10/7/10 [Yes, 2010]

" ... Politicians who claim that they are not influenced by campaign contributions are not being honest with themselves. It is basic human nature to feel an obligation to someone who gives you a gift. Donors know that, which is why they contribute. ..."

House kills campaign donation limits billsltrib.com 3/11/14

"Utah will remain one of only four states that have no campaign-donation limits. The House killed the latest attempt to create them on Monday. ..."

Disorderly conduct — Tribune Editorial, 2/24/12

" ... This bill begs the question whether openly carrying a gun in a public place is, by itself, disorderly conduct. We think it is, for the simple reason that it will cause fear, if not panic, among many people who see this behavior.

"Why is that guy carrying a gun? What does he intend? I should call the cops. Those are the thoughts that will dart through the mind of most onlookers. Does it disturb the peace of these people? Absolutely. ..."

Carrying a gun is not disorderly conduct, Utah House sayssltrib.com 3/11/14

"Carrying a gun may look ominous. But the House voted Monday to make clear that such action alone cannot be considered disorderly conduct. ..."

On the other hand, some good news:

Utah lawmakers pass bill to end use of ‘administrative subpoenas’sltrib.com 3/11/14

"The House gave final passage Tuesday to a bill that would end the use of controversial "administrative subpoenas," which allow investigators to gather basic Internet and phone records, including bank account numbers, without a warrant. ...

Warrants, subpoenas should be more carefully used — Tribune Editorial, 2/15/14

" ... Before this session began, a few lawmakers were making some hopeful noises about reining in some law enforcement practices that clearly need to be limited by law. But bills that would require more reasonable use of warrants and subpoenas have been stalled. ..."



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