Paper Elephants 

Also: Shake That Moneymaker, The Mighty Oaks

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Paper Elephants
Republicans say they're about less government intrusion. Now, they want to secretly get into your bank accounts. But, hey—that's only if you're late paying your taxes and there's a lien against you. The new database would contain Social Security numbers, bank-account numbers, account balances and contact info. Not to worry, it will be really super-secure—just like Medicaid, before a 2012 data breach sent the data of hundreds of thousands of people to Eastern Europe. The GOP plan is for a good cause: paperwork reduction. It's unclear when the government has ever managed to reduce paperwork, but Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, thinks it could happen. So why do Republicans suddenly want to save the forests? Don't be silly: The plan's not about trees—it's about money. In order to recoup millions of dollars in lost revenue, the state tries to track down tax evaders by sending out truckloads of 67-page documents to financial institutions. Wasteful, time-consuming and expensive.

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Shake That Moneymaker
It's bad enough that the Utah Association of Counties chose San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman as its Commissioner of the Year (Lyman was guilty of conspiracy earlier this year for his role in an illegal ATV protest ride). This month, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that his office has concluded its investigation of Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, and that no prosecution would be forthcoming. Both Ivory and Lyman are leading the struggle to seize public lands. Ivory called the AG's investigation a smear campaign by "dark D.C. extremists." Ivory presides over the American Lands Council and has persuaded states to give taxpayer dollars to the group—and then allegedly kept much of the money himself. This may not amount to actual fraud—although Montana and Arizona were a bit suspicious—but if Ivory wants to model laws for state legislators, he should avoid all appearance of evil.

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The Mighty Oaks
Despite his previous infuriating, anti-gay statements, LDS Elder Dallin Oaks' star rose just a bit among the LGBT community when he spoke out about Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses. The National LGBTQ Task Force issued a statement praising Oaks for saying that "using faith as an excuse to ignore the law and discriminate is wrong." OK, so that's not exactly what Oaks said—but no matter. The Deseret News wrote a notably long article discussing the issue and saying Oaks was calling for a "middle ground." There's still plenty of room for disagreement, but at least the call for dialogue came through loud and clear.

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More by Katharine Biele

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