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COVID Marches on 

Apolitical? Please Apply, Women Can Hope

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COVID Marches on
In this time of global pandemic and universal conspiracies, it's not surprising that a story about the death of a Utah sheriff became something different. It became apparent that some still believe COVID-19 is just like the flu, and how dare The Salt Lake Tribune run a story about Utah County's longest-serving sheriff who died of the virus. "I'm sorry but I'm not sure why COVID deaths are in the news. People die of all sorts of things. ... Obituary pages—that's where death announcements go. We have never had stories of the yearly flu deaths among other deaths," one commenter said. Meanwhile, the Trib's Andy Larsen made the "no-duh" observation that philosophy (albeit ideology) trumps data in the virus battle. That became perfectly clear when the Salt Lake School District, fearing the fiscal wrath of the Legislature, voted to open schools. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, was "thrilled" but still went ahead with a bill to punish Salt Lake because ... he could? Since then, Weiler and several other lawmakers have tested positive for COVID. And, a Deseret News poll showed that more than a third of Utahns aren't very worried about the virus.

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Apolitical? Please Apply
Remember the citizen initiative aimed at gerrymandering? Maybe you don't because citizens voted for an independent redistricting commission but didn't necessarily know that targeted gerrymandering. While the commission was advisory only, the Legislature still demanded "tweaks" to the law. They don't like to be told what to do, even by their constituents. One of the tweaks was a compromise on commission membership, and this is what we are stuck with: a person who is neither Republican nor Democrat and has never voted in a partisan primary—which is a primary. So, if you voted in an open Democratic primary, you'll have to lie to be considered. Republicans probably have an exhaustive list of party members for their closed primaries. The requirements go on and on, but basically say if you have no interest or connection to the politics of your state, you qualify.

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Women Can Hope
There is a glimmer of hope for women in Utah, although the jury's still out because we are dealing with predominately white, male Mormon lawmakers. We'll start with HB168, which would prohibit the sale of at-home rape kits. Even the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office believes the kits would be inadmissible in court, and health professionals think they give victims false hope. But Rep. Angela Romero's bill still has no Senate co-sponsor and detractors want "more information," according to The Salt Lake Tribune. A broader issue, however, is the long-sought Equal Rights Amendment, which Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, is hoping to revive with SJR008. While it is gaining traction again nationwide, Utah's Eagle Forum is standing at the ready with its outdated talking points about the dangers of equality.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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