Hits & Misses | Utahs Driving Less, Expensive Ethics Reform & Mine Inspectors 

Ticket to Ride
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Short of drilling a hole through the mountains and installing a giant fan to blow smog out of Utah’s valleys, the only way Beehive State residents are going to breathe clean air in the near future is if they stop driving. There’s good news on that front in a recent survey from the Federal Highway Administration. People are driving less all over the United States compared to last year, but reduction in Utah was among the greatest in the nation. Utahns drove 7 percent less this October compared to last year, second only to Montana for reduced driving. In Utah cities, the reduction was 8 percent-plus. At the same time, the Utah Transit Authority reports use of buses and trains is on the upswing. n

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Pricey Ethics
nTired of giving money to Utah lawmakers re-election campaigns? Why not give to their legal defense funds, instead? Slush funds for lawmakers’ lawyers could be the next revolution in fund-raising at the Utah House and Senate—and it will all be in the name of “ethics reform.” A breakdown of the price tag for looking into ethics allegations against two lawmakers in the fall was recently given to the House Ethics Committee. It put the taxpayer cost at nearly $90,000. Some lawmakers, Republican and Democratic, are currently preparing a slate of ethics reform legislation for consideration by the full Legislature in January. It’s not hard to imagine the reason lawmakers will give for voting “No”: “Sure, we’d love to be ethical, but it’s just too dern expensive.”

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Mine Inspection
nRemember the miners who died at Crandall Canyon last year? It appears that someone does. Following the coal mine disaster that trapped six men underground and killed three rescue workers, the federal Mine Safety Health Administration implemented the “100 percent plan” with the lofty goal of actually completing all mine safety inspections required by law. MSHA recently announced its inspectors completed the task for 2008. In fact, 2008 is the first year in the agency’s history that all required mine inspections have been completed. Getting the job done required hiring more inspectors, including 360 new inspectors for coal mines. Added up, the number of agency inspectors is now back to levels seen in the 1990s before this country’s giant, failed experiment in mass industry deregulation. tttt

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Ted McDonough

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