Not a 'Funding Priority'
It's always interesting to see what the Legislature considers a funding priority. Apparently, clean air is not one of them. Last year, our lawmakers rejected limits on wood-burning stoves because, you know, probably a couple of people use them for heat. The smoke contains more than 100 chemical compounds and one fireplace emits more particulates than 90 sports utility vehicles, according to UCAIR. This year, the Legislature opted out of funding a mere $500,000 lawn mower exchange program which has been wildly popular. The Department of Environment Quality notes that using a lawn mower for an hour creates the same air pollution as driving a passenger car for 169 miles, and the exchange program reduced pollution by 3.6 tons last year. The Standard-Examiner editorialized that the state decision was bad. Indeed, the state has shown a general disdain for clean air.
Speaking of the Legislature, no, they didn't approve medical cannabis this year. But you may remember that in 2014 they approved the use without prescription of naloxone, a drug that can save lives if administered during a overdose. That's because Utah has one of the highest overdose rates in the nation. For whatever reason, Utahns just love their opioids, and often abuse them. More people die of overdoses or poisonings than from firearms, falls or motor vehicle crashes, says Jennifer Plumb of the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics. So, without a legal pass on the use of cannabis, opioids are still the go-to drugs for people in pain or with various other ailments—including addiction. This month, the Cottonwood Heights Police Department became the first in Utah to carry naloxone, according to a KSL Channel 5 report.
Conflicts of Interests
Appearances are everything, but Utah politicians don't seem to care. City Weekly and The Salt Lake Tribune have both reported on Rep. Brad Wilson's Sunflower Crossing development near the Draper prison, although Wilson insists he didn't get any benefit by being on the relocation commission. On the other hand, neither he nor Senate President Wayne Niederhauser exactly publicized their real estate holdings during the relocation process. Wilson talks about his conflict-of-interest form and how people can search online for information about him. But is that really transparency? Is that really ethics in practice? The Legislature has a large number of developers. In fact, the Trib has said that 22 percent of bills originated from legislators with some vested interest. Maybe that doesn't make them criminals. But it does tarnish their so-called reputation.