Short takes on the news
No reason to wait • Gov. Gary Herbert's assurance to Utahns that he "will not be rushed" into making a decision about whether to get out of the way and allow thousands of uninsured to receive needed health care does nothing to inspire confidence in his motivations. Quite simply, Herbert's refusal to act until next year is immoral and completely unjustified. The expansion of Medicaid allowed under the Affordable Care Act would provide health coverage for up to 123,000 of Utah's 400,000 low-income uninsured residents working people who desperately need health care and cannot afford to buy insurance. Those earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level about $32,400 for a family of four, or $15,856 a year for one person would be eligible. Herbert's seeming concern for the eventual cost to the state is unwarranted. In states that opt for full expansion, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs through 2017. After that, states will pay a share, but the law caps the cost at 10 percent of overall costs. If Herbert sits on the fence past this fall, Utah could lose millions in federal funds. While the governor chides those who favor the ACA and Medicaid expansion as acting from a "political rationale," it's obvious that Herbert's chief concern is not for Utahns who need health care but for his own standing with his Republican colleagues who act purely on ideology.
Police secrets • Recent possibly criminal actions by law enforcement officers in Utah, including former Highway Patrol trooper Lisa Steed, increase the need for more transparency among all police agencies. Put simply, Utahns need to know what's going on inside law enforcement departments. So a ruling by Third District Judge L.A. Dever last week that orders the UHP to provide a lawsuit plaintiff with records of its investigation into the conduct of a trooper is good news. UHP Cpl. Shawn Alton said his request to search a man's SUV and trailer in 2011 had the proper approval. But the Emery County attorney told Alton he didn't have enough probable cause to search Jeffrey Lawrence's vehicle as Lawrence sat on the side of Interstate 70 after running out of gas. Lawrence sued in federal court; the county paid him $40,000 in a settlement. But the UHP did not discipline Alton, and Lawrence wanted to know why. The Utah Records Committee denied his request for information. Dever rightly ruled that the public has an interest in knowing how law enforcement agencies investigate complaints. That ruling should lay the groundwork for greater accountability in law enforcement, something Utahns should demand.
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