I had hoped that being in the spotlight of the world media assembled for the Olympics would check the extremes of the bizarre annual winter circus known as the Utah State Legislature. I figured that the LDS church leadership would realize that if the Legislature acted as weirdly as usual, it wouldn’t fit with the carefully choreographed and stage-managed image the Molympics were intended to transmit to the world.
Unfortunately, last week the clowns again stole the spotlight.
First, the Republican-dominated Legislature decided that every hick farmer, excuse me, “citizen legislator,” elected from East Podunk (with apologies to East Podunk in New Jersey) understands the constitutionality of their stupid bills as well as any lawyer they could hire. This from a group that passes enough unconstitutional legislation to keep the ACLU and Brian Barnard rolling in the legal fees that are awarded after each year’s new crop of court decisions.
The sponsor of this atrocity, Rep. David Ure, a Republican from Kamas who was saved from almost certain defeat in this year’s election by gerrymandering of the worst kind, had the unmitigated gall to offer as a justification a comparison of the Utah Legislature to the Founding Fathers. Since each group includes people from diverse backgrounds (i.e., not all members for the hated legal profession) Ure apparently believes that each has the same level of wisdom and understanding of the constitutional import of their work. To paraphrase Lloyd Benson about Dan Quayle, “I’ve read about the Founding Fathers and the members of the Utah Legislature are not the Founding Fathers.”
The real reason that the Republican legislators object to having bills noted with the opinion of their lawyers is that the lawyers in the Legislative Counsel’s office have enough brains, honesty and guts to tell the truth: Most of what the Republican Legislature would really like to do if they had their druthers is clearly unconstitutional, not to mention absurd. Just think of the frightening powers the Republican Legislators, urged on by the brown-shirted troops of the Ruzikistas, would have given to the Porn Czar if the Legislative Counsel hadn’t been around to tell them no.
The second proof that the inmates are again threatening to take charge of the asylum was the continuing fetish of Sen. Mike Waddoups (R-NRA) regarding his right to carry a concealed weapon wherever he chooses. Last week, he proposed cutting the salary of the courageous president of the University of Utah, Bernie Machen, if Machen persisted in trying to keep the green grounds of the U from becoming a shooting gallery.
In this case, Waddoups’ bill may be too weird for even his own leadership. To his credit (and I usually don’t agree with his politics), Holladay’s Steve Poulton, the Republican Senate majority leader, derided Waddoups’ proposal as not just a “message bill,” but also a bad message as well.
Even if Waddoups’ bill is quickly silenced and Ure’s attempt to gag the Legislative Counsel’s office is shot down (ironic phrasings too fun to avoid writing) it is too late. The world’s press has seen the true colors of the Legislature. Newspapers and television reports around the world will now get to make fun of Mike Waddoups at all of our expense.