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Paul Rolly: Legislative UFO buzzes the Utah Capitol

By PAUL ROLLY

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Mar 04 2014 06:10 pm • Last Updated Mar 04 2014 10:43 pm

As Gov. Gary Herbert met with his staff last week to finalize the rollout of his alternative to House Speaker Becky Lockhart’s Medicaid plan, a UFO appeared outside his window and hovered there for several minutes.

The spaceship-looking device, about the size of a garbage can lid, contained a camera that was focused on Herbert and his brain trust, as though it was taking pictures of whatever the governor planned to unveil.

At a glance

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Was it an NSA drone?

No.

Was it al-Qaida?

Nah.

Was it Putin?

Nope?

Obama?

Not likely.


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story continues below

It was the Utah Legislature — or at least some of its members.

Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, is a homebuilder and developer. He owns the drone, which he flies to take aerial shots of his construction projects.

He brought it to Capitol Hill last week and, in a moment of levity, let some of his colleagues play with it on the grass.

Using a remote, they guided the craft to just outside the governor’s window, where they let it buzz around for a while.

Joining Wilson in the "sting" operation were Reps. Mel Brown, R-Coalville; Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi; and House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, as well as lobbyists Alan Dayton and Kate Bradshaw.

It’s unclear if they were able to capture any trade secrets from the governor’s office, but there is some irony.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, is sponsoring SB167, which would bar law enforcement agencies from obtaining data through an unmanned aerial vehicle without a search warrant from a judge.

The bill says nothing, however, about legislators flying drones to spy on the government.

Job killers » Here is another bit of irony for all those Utah legislators who rail against environmental regulations and castigate clean-air advocates as blasphemous job killers. (My favorite is Rep. Jerry Anderson, R-Price, a retired science teacher, no less, who said we need more carbon dioxide in the air.)

After his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of Economic Development Corp. of Utah was asked by Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, about a rumor the lawmaker had heard.

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