Oh, transparency. It's a nice word, but apparently just that. We'll start with Hillary Clinton, whose e-mail release is massive but still calls into question how she chose what to release. Then there's Jeb Bush and Rick Perry, both of whom used private e-mails when they were governors of their states. Chris Christie has to deal with lawsuits surrounding the New Jersey law protecting so-called advisory communications. Bobby Jindal's state exempted him from disclosing private e-mails with his staff. The list goes on. "It's good-government law that rests on the honesty and transparency of public officials," Charles Davis, journalism and communications dean at the University of Georgia, told the Associated Press. "If a government official sets out on a mission to lie to the public or withhold from the public by using private e-mail or some other means, there's not much we can do about it."
There may be cause to rejoice in transparency after all. The Utah Legislature via Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, is considering a bill to make consumer complaints about some businesses public. The bill was a product of collaboration, which could be the kiss of death when it reaches the House. (That is where Healthy Utah morphed into the "Utah Cares Less" bill.) Such a bill could be a big win for transparency but, as of press time, it had been sent back to the Rules Committee, and it's unclear whether lawmakers will let it out again. On another disclosure note, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz is after the Federal Communications Commission to release the text of its net-neutrality rules, and he even quoted President Barack Obama to make his point. "Congress and the public have the right to review any specific proposal and decide whether or not it constitutes sound policy."
One Step ... Forward?
In the something's-better-than-nothing category, the prize goes to two historic legislative issues: The first, of course, is un-Healthy Utah, the House version of a compromise health deal that will cover fewer people at a higher cost than the governor's plan. At press time, the bill's fate was still unknown, but Gov. Gary Herbert has hinted at some kind of executive action. The second bill passed the Senate, ostensibly to protect LGBT Utahns from housing and employment discrimination. But discrimination still remains under the guise of protecting "religious freedom." As Utahns hail progress, it remains to be seen whether this hybrid anti-discrimination bill will be a model for other states.