Let’s not spare our state’s legislative branch from criticism during this pandemic. Unlike Gov. Gary Herbert who, to his credit, is at least attempting (albeit poorly) to manage the crisis, the members of our statehouse have sat on the sidelines and only offered criticism.
What is at the top of their agenda is intimidating those wishing to exercise their First Amendment rights. On the surface, Jon Hawkin’s proposed bill lessening the legal repercussions for motorists who injure or kill a protestor seems well intentioned. It’s horrifying to think of a situation where, as Hawkins cites, a person in need of medical care loses their life because of a protest. However, has he considered that right now, it’s more likely those in need of emergency medical care will be victims of a compromised hospital system overrun with COVID patients?
Instead of drafting legislation that threatens free speech by deputizing Utah’s misguided right wing as vehicular vigilantes, our statehouse could be helping us with the tragic reality of our daily lives. To our state legislators: You have the power to enact public health measures to restore consumer confidence and bolster the economy. You can change the education system so our children aren’t further hobbled when outbreaks shut down in person learning. And most importantly, you can pass laws supporting the health and well-being of our workforce.
With better access to healthcare and mandatory paid sick leave, employees wouldn’t have to choose between paying the rent and infecting the population. These are the problems most Utahns face right now. Use your charge as an elected representative to serve the people. And if you still want your name attached to a bill that protects us from the perils of extremism, how about making it a felony to invade a hospital because you think COVID is a conspiracy?
Mason J. Diedrich, Sandy