If you’ve seen the 2004 HBO movie Iron Jawed Angels with Hilary Swank, well, you won’t ever want to be force-fed. Swank, as radical suffragette Alice Paul, calls a hunger strike in prison, and it just gets more gruesome from there. In Utah, 19-year-old Carlos Umana starved himself to death in his Salt Lake County jail cell, prompting Rep. Derek Brown, R-Cottonwood Heights, to propose legislation to avert this kind of thing. Brown wants to find a process so jailors can determine if an inmate is mentally ill, and then hydrate and force-feed that person. The American Civil Liberties Union objects, saying it could violate an inmate’s right to privacy, or worse, free speech if politically motivated. Inmates already can be sent to the state mental hospital, which apparently has force-feeding rights. So why involve the correctional facilities at all?
Internet entrepreneur and U.S. Senate candidate Pete Ashdown is more than a little sarcastic when it comes to Rep. Stephen Sandstrom’s Internet gambling bill. Sandstrom, R-Orem, wants to make it a misdemeanor to transmit, receive or relay any kind of Internet gambling, and he wants to tell the feds that Utah opts out of any potential authorization of Internet gambling. But Ashdown doesn’t argue the morality of it all. He says Sandstrom “has crafted a SOPA/PIPA-style Internet-censorship bill. … It drafts Internet Service Providers (but only ones operating inside Utah, yay local business!) as police, judge and jury to spy on your activities to make sure you’re not violating Utah gambling laws.” If online privacy is an issue at all, it gains traction with this bill.
Admittedly, this may just be a brief hiatus in the whole abortion debate, but you have to give Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, some credit for rethinking stuff. Osmond pulled his bill defining “personhood” and setting the stage for a constitutional amendment on when life begins. It all started after a little meeting with the Eagle Forum, and we all know how influential they are with conservative legislators. But Osmond somehow found the will to buck the Eagle Forum, saying, in essence, he’d rather focus on educational rather than ejaculatory issues. In fact, one of his bills seeks greater accountability by tying teacher performance to pay and employment. It’s a bill he earlier pulled after heated opposition. Osmond is proving to be a listener and a learner, willing to tweak or toss bills based on constituent input and research. What a concept!