Ethics, Shmethics Remember all the talk before this year’s legislative session about cleaning up the ethical mess on Capitol Hill? Neither, apparently, did Utah’s Legislature. Lawmakers gave only token attention to ethics reform during an annual get-together that occurred hot on the heels of bribery scandals. Ideas for a gift ban and an independent commission to help lawmakers get a conscience were shoved under the carpet. Barely noticeable progress was made in the areas of limiting and disclosing gifts from lobbyists and a cooling-off period before former lawmakers could peddle influence as lobbyists. The only effect of the scandals, it seems, was that one lawmaker who resigned after being accused of offering cash for votes appeared at the session in the guise of a lobbyist. It’s not clear anyone noticed the difference.
Cricket Stimulus Utah’s ranchers are once again bracing to be overrun by Mormon crickets, threeinch long ravenous crop eaters that consume feed needed for cattle. As it has in the past, the federal Agriculture Department is stepping up with help to control the cricket population—courtesy of a $1 million earmark placed in the federal budget by Utah Sen. Bob Bennett. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is calling out Bennett’s cricket earmark as an example of pork-barrel spending, but he clearly hasn’t ever met a Mormon cricket. Spending the $1 million could save tens of millions in Utah agricultural profits. Maybe the presidential loser wants Utah to wait for the seagulls.
What Global Warming? Thank goodness the Legislature took care of that global-warming business. It was beginning to get worrisome. In a series of message bills to end all message bills, t he Utah Legislature went on the record telling Mother Nature that global warming was fiction so Utah won’t be wasting any more time on that greenhouse gas business, thank you very much. One resolution tells Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to get Utah out of the Western Climate Initiative, a grouping of Western states trying to come to grips with global warming. A possibly more damaging bill will require a review of economic impacts before Utah adopts any program to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. Lastly, lawmakers gave the state seal of approval to “renewable” energy: aka nuclear.