E-signatures (still!) banned, HUD grants & Queer Fear 

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Witness This
The Utah Elections Office announced recently that e-signatures would be allowed for initiative petitions ... provided that the petitioner witnesses the signature. That essentially means that the signatures will not be allowed, despite a recent Utah Supreme Court ruling that electronic signatures were valid for candidates using a petition to get on the ballot. Utahns for Ethical Government, who are trying to get an initiative on the 2012 ballot to create an independent ethics commission, says they will most likely challenge the new rule in court. In defending the rule, Lt. Gov. Greg Bell (right) and his staff argue that the rules for initiative petitions are much more stringent, which apparently means they can trump even the Supreme Court.

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Raising the Roof
More than $1 million will soon flow into Utah to help build housing for low-income people, including more than $300,000 for a newly opened complex in Salt Lake County that helps homeless seniors get off of the streets. In Tooele County, $458,000 will provide money for a transitional housing project. Other beneficiaries are projects addressing chronic homelessness in West Valley, Saratoga Springs and Springville. The grants are part of a larger national program that seeks to end chronic homelessness for seniors, veterans and families within the next 10 years. While that sounds absurdly ambitious, it’s nice to see major goals backed with actual money instead of empty promises.

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Queer Fear
Less than 40 percent of gay Utahns feel protected from discrimination in public, and barely half feel protected against discrimination in the workplace. That’s according to a survey done by the Utah Pride Center during the Pride Festival. An even bigger concern, however, is that only 33 percent feel protected against discrimination if they are involved in a domestic dispute that becomes violent. The Pride Center and local law enforcement are trying to correct that last statistic through education, and Salt Lake City police receive sensitivity training, but this survey reinforces that Utah still has a long way to go before it’s truly welcoming of diversity.

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