Yes, the Legislature has adjourned. But don't relax yet. In fact, don't ever relax. There are lobbyists working full-time against your interests, and Interim is just around the corner. The big tell this year was what everyone calls the Rocky Mountain Power Bill. That's because RMP wrote it and, somehow—can we say money—convinced legislators that it would be good policy to pass more risk to consumers and have them face rate hikes without the filter of that pesky Public Service Commission. You may ask how the Legislature gets to call itself fiscally conservative by not taking full Medicaid expansion when it spends $53 million to send coal to a California port and endorses a $14 million lawsuit to usurp federal lands. Oh, and don't forget they sent $250,000 in tax dollars to some odd nonprofit for a legal defense fund for convicted County Commissioner Lyman. Pay attention, Utah.
Air and Billboards
It's not the best time for clean air or pristine vistas in Utah because it's all about business these days. Utah Policy reported that the Utah Air Quality Board rejected three proposals to beef up oversight on the state's biggest industrial polluters. The argument was that it would be burdensome and time-consuming to consider the proposals. As if breathing bad air isn't burdensome! Also, this year's Legislature passed a bill by rural cult hero Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, to propagate billboards along scenic byways. All you have to do now is prove to an administrative judge (chosen by the property owner and the scenic byway committee) that it's not a scenic byway. That basically bypasses local control. Just a side-note: Once a billboard goes up, it could be there forever. "Exempting parts of the road from designation is like tearing pages out of a book: It ruins the story," wrote Mary Tracy in a Salt Lake Tribune letter.
Singing to the Choir
Just when you think there's nothing good in the world, along comes National Pi Day. Well, that's past, but you can still dream. And you can marvel. Even if you're not a "Christian," you should take a minute to listen to the Virtual Hallelujah Choir (Bit.ly/1UagPWw). "More than 2,000 people submitted digital files of themselves singing the chorus from Handel's Messiah. Their voices are blended with the actual Mormon Tabernacle Choir and video boxes with their faces are seen surrounding the choir in the video," the Deseret News reported. Yeah, you may be used to seeing the MoTab in matching outfits and precision expressions, but now you can see real people with beards and hoodies and faces of color. No kidding.