Hits & Misses: Healthy Hypocrisy | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Hits & Misses: Healthy Hypocrisy 

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Sick Lawmakers
Goons running Utah’s Legislature are making state business leaders an offer they can’t refuse: back private school vouchers or forget about affordable employee health insurance. Businesses have joined with United Way to propose a new state health-care plan for all Utahns. At a recent meeting of the business coalition, the majority leader of Utah’s House reportedly warned support for the health plan would hinge on business jumping on the pro-voucher bandwagon before November’s voucher election. The lawmaker in question denies making a threat. He didn’t really have to. Earlier this summer, all the top leaders of the House and Senate summoned business lobbyists together for a meeting where the lobbyists were instructed to pony up money for the lawmakers’ pro-voucher political action committee.

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Healthy Hypocrisy
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is again blocking state lawmakers who have visions of a green glow for Utah. Legislators are gung-ho to build nuclear power plants in Utah. Huntsman says he won’t sign off until the nation figures out a way to store the resulting nuclear waste onsite. The governor isn’t against Utah using nuclear power, just against nuclear power plants locating in the Beehive State. That stand may be hypocritical, but his agreeing to base nuclear power plants in Utah would be more so. Huntsman’s administration protested when east coast nuclear power plants teamed with the Goshute tribe to store spent nuclear fuel in Utah’s west desert. Having blocked that plan, Utah can’t now manufacture glow-in-the-dark stuff of its own that will need shipped elsewhere for permanent storage.

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Five to Life

After just five years on the job, Utah federal judge Paul Cassell is leaving for a teaching gig at the U law school. That should increase his take-home pay but isn’t good for justice. In his short time on the federal bench, Cassell became a leading critic of federal “mandatory minimum” sentencing laws that have filled the country’s prisons with drug offenders. He was the first to declare federal sex-offense minimums unconstitutional. He began lobbying against all federal minimums after he was forced to sentence a small-time marijuana dealer to 55 years, telling Congress this year the rules amounted to “one-size-fits-all injustice.” Hopefully, Cassell will continue pressing the case for justices still hogtied on the bench.
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