Hits & Misses | Campaign Finance, Smirnoff Ice & Nuclear Fallout 

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Campaign Finance Reform
Utah lawmakers’ sleight-of-hand in financing their campaigns has become so blatant it is even offending Utah lawmakers. In the upcoming session of the Legislature, several will run bills to clean up the mess. Candidates who “forget” to file financial-disclosure forms would be barred from the ballot by Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper. Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, would fine candidates who don’t disclose big donors until after an election. Sen. Peter Knudson, R-Brigham City, wants to close loopholes and make all candidates and political committees file reports, while Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, would expand state regulation to city elections, forcing cities to make finance reports available to the public and bring secretive local campaign groups out of the dark.

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Liquor Illiteracy
It’s one step forward and two steps back in Utah’s liquor wars. Folks in Cache County are pleasantly surprised riots haven’t broken out now that beer sales are being allowed Sundays. No such enlightenment, however, for Utah liquor commissioners who recently voted to ask the Legislature to remove Smirnoff Ice-style flavored malt beverages from grocery stores. Two commissioners voted, “No,” one noting malt beverages are just 3.2 beer with a tiny amount of booze added for flavor. That didn’t stop the majority from requesting the products be reclassified as “liquor” for exclusive sale at the state liquor store. The result will be higher prices for malt beverage drinkers who will now pay the state’s 86 percent markup.

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Nuclear Fallout
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it won’t let Italy’s nuclear leftovers be imported to a state that doesn’t want the stuff. That’s a bit of good news for those opposing EnergySolutions’ plan to import 20,000 tons from Italy’s defunct nuclear program. (About 1,600 tons would go to the company’s Tooele County landfill.) The bad news is states have to say, “No.” While Texas and Kentucky politicos have written federal nuclear officials to complain about the Italy import, Utah leaders seem fine with it. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. says he is OK with Utah taking any country’s waste that meets the “low level” threshold of radioactive material allowed here. Utah citizens will have their say during upcoming public comment periods.

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