Limelight Stealer | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Limelight Stealer 

Sen. Mike Lee takes a stand in the Senate, Utah's number of uninsured children is rising, plus cheers to Utah's record voter turnout!

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Limelight Stealer
What's hard in the political environment today is figuring out just why some politicians do what they do. Take Utah Sen. Mike Lee, for instance. Wonky Lee has been described as a libertarian-leaning Republican, whose ideology The New York Times characterized as the most conservative, and who votes with the president 81 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. So you might think Lee voted to shut down Senate attempts to protect Robert Mueller because he's hoping President Donald Trump will fire him. Lee actually stole the limelight from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has vowed to block another such vote. But why? Not because—if you believe it—they care what the Tweeter in Chief wants. Rather, Lee says, it was to spare us a de facto fourth arm of government—so, unconstitutional. But wait, isn't Twitter the Fourth Branch?


Uninsured Children
Now, if only the Legislature just leaves Proposition 3 alone. That's the citizen initiative to expand Medicaid—finally, and against the Legislature's better judgment. Lawmakers have long made the circular argument that Utah can't afford it because, despite getting a ton of cash from the feds, it eventually will run out. Funny thing, we're actually losing more than money now. The number of uninsured children jumped 20.3 percent from 2016-17, according to the Deseret News, making the state one of 12 with rates higher than the national average. These are kids, the kind of humans who can't pull themselves up by the bootstraps. The economy's great, unemployment's low, but we can't take care of children's health. And the governor now wants to raise the sales tax on food.


Cheers, Voters!
Oh, the midterms! Whether you like the results, you should be overjoyed by the turnout. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox was. He re-tweeted this: "We went from 39th in the nation to 21st, which was the largest jump of any state. Still work to do, but I'll take it!" In the last midterm election, 2014, the turnout was 46.25 percent. This year, it was 52 percent of the state's voter-eligible population, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The Deseret News called it the highest midterm turnout since '62. Utah doesn't like to suppress voting, like some states. The Brennan Center For Justice noted that in 2016, 14 states had new voting restrictions in place. Some required photo IDs, others a physical address, and Florida barely allows any ex-felons the right to vote. Of course, the president tweets frequently about voter fraud, an unsubstantiated allegation. For Utahns, they just vote—once, without changing shirts and hats. And it has a big impact.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

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.

More by Katharine Biele

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