Hits & Misses | Utah GOP, Green Lawmakers, St. George Water 

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Party Politics Don’t ask; don’t tell. That, it seems, is the new motto of the Utah GOP, at least when it comes to asking hard questions of incumbent lawmakers. Chance Williams, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Mike Morley, R-Spanish Fork, for the Republican nomination, was told that a debate would be “shut down” if he dared speak ill of Morley. Williams is running a campaign on ethics but can’t mention Morley’s involvement in the charter school business or allegations from federal regulators that Morley was “unjustly enriched” to the tune of $3 million by a now-defunct hedge fund. Other moderate Republican challengers say party insiders are stepping on the scales to ensure the right wing doesn’t lose power, from changing party meeting locations to stamping “secret” on lists of party delegates.

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Green Lawmakers Utah’s Legislature this year resisted its usual urge to torpedo environmental legislation. The Sierra Club Utah chapter’s annual legislative scorecard finds many earth-friendly bills that in past sessions would never have gotten out of committee, not only got a vote, but passed. New laws include a tax credit, sponsored by retiring Rep. Roz McGee, D-Salt Lake City, for those buying hybrid or natural-gas-powered cars. Rep. Chris Johnson, D-Salt Lake City, got two environmental friendly bills passed. One will take phosphorous out of dishwashing detergent, helping to clean rivers. A second will clean exhaust from school buses. The Legislature also funded trails, boosted renewable energy and put water into trout streams. Maybe Mother Nature has been handing out Jazz tickets.

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Shell Game Some St. George residents are starting to question the wisdom of building a 140-mile-long pipeline to bring Lake Powell water to their community. Instead, they ask, why not moderate growth to fit the amount of water already available? If that sounds hopelessly backward, look to neighboring Kane County. Last year the Kane County Water Conservancy District (managed by state Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab), pledged 30,000 acre feet of water per year to a proposed nuclear power plant (headed by state Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville). Now, the same water conservancy district says it’s desparate for the 10,000 acre feet it stands to get from the Lake Powell Pipeline. No wonder some are calling for a citizens’ referendum on the pipeline.

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