It looks like clear sailing for a clean-air bill that’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, is pushing Senate Bill 275 for Questar Gas Co. to start building more natural-gas fueling stations so people can fill their converted vehicles with, ahem, Questar gas. The Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial page thinks it’s a cool idea. But there are some major problems, aside from the little fact that the costs will be folded into your rates without being itemized. Maybe it’s not much to begin with—$1 to $5—but it will creep up and you’ll never know it. And then—Republicans take note—there’s the unfair competition thing. Questar stations would be subsidized, but regular filling stations would not. Adams talks about creating jobs and sticking it to Saudi Arabia, but he doesn’t mention the captive ratepayer.
Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, is co-sponsoring the Employment & Housing Antidiscrimination Amendments (Senate Bill 262) with Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George. And it appears to be moving along. Meanwhile, he invited the Eagle Forum’s Gayle Ruzicka to a chat about this subject and more. While it seemed to go well, there’s no denying that Ruzicka doesn’t like a lot of progressive ideas that include “special groups.” People ought to be able to discriminate based on moral or religious choices, she says. She’s all about personal freedoms, like teaching your kids at home, and that means no preschool or kindergarten funding, and no laws against smoking in cars with kids. Ruzicka worries about the government encroaching on your home and family.
Oddly placed with a committee on natural resources, House Bill 398 (Fees on Gift Cards or Certificates) is headed to interim. Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, just wanted to prohibit expiration dates or service fees on gift cards, but ran into the considerable muscle of the banking industry. Who knew how hard it is to define a gift card? And how huge an industry it is in Utah? Sadly, Brown just wanted some fairness, but bankers came out in force, talking about loading payroll, workers compensation and more [money?] onto cards for the “unbanked or under-banked.” Utah is becoming home to these institutions, and they want a say in how their cards are managed. Even though other states prohibit fees, Utah is going to have to mull this over. So, until then, read the fine print.