Three groups pushing statewide ballot initiatives have launched online petitions where registered voters can sign digitally (only Utahns for Ethical Government lacks the online petition, but is planning to have one). Since electronic signatures are permitted for all sorts of other government activity, including filing taxes, the groups say that signing a petition with an e-signature should be permitted. However, Utah Elections Office administrator Mark Thomas says that the groups may fail to meet the excessively stringent requirement for ballot initiatives with their e-signatures, because current laws are for “paper-based” initiatives. In other words, the initiative laws are outdated in the same way that current ethics laws are designed for “paperbased” transactions between lawmakers and lobbyists.
In late January, Logan Mayor Randy Watts instituted an unwritten policy requiring that all media questions for city officials be submitted in writing, and all responses be given in writing. Watts says, in a news release, that the policy is to “ensure that the information provided to the media is accurate.” Unwritten speculation is that the policy was motivated by several “negative” articles written in the Logan Herald-Journal, but when asked, via e-mail, if that were the case, Logan spokeswoman Teresa Harris told City Weekly to listen to an interview on Logan-based radio station KVNU on Jan. 25 for more details. However, as long as Watts keeps his wrong-headed policy in place, City Weekly will only accept written responses to its questions.
Take from the rich and give to the students. Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, has introduced a bill in the 2010 legislative session that would skim a bit more tax revenue from the wealthy. Every dollar earned up to $250,000 would be taxed at 5 percent, which is the rate of the current so-called flat tax. Anything between $250,000 and $750,000 would be taxed at 6 percent, and anything over $750,000 would be taxed at 7 percent. King has estimated the tiered-tax system would bring in another $370 million to fund public and higher education. Those dollars could greatly help Utah schools, which perennially struggle for funding. Of course, as a Democrat sponsoring a tax hike, King has little shot of passing his bill, especially because it actually makes sense.