Smoking Spice, The U's New Architecture Building & Herbert's Tax Increase | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Smoking Spice, The U's New Architecture Building & Herbert's Tax Increase 

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High Scare
Spice mania has gripped the collective minds of law enforcement and military officials. The so-called incense that often is smoked to replicate (legally) a marijuana high has also resulted in marijuana-like drug busts for sellers and discharges for Air Force pilots. In Logan, undercover drug agents arrested a clerk in early March at a smoke shop that sold the (again, legal) spice even after one agent said he planned to get high. And in late March, on Hill Air Force Base, seven airmen were given dishonorable discharges for smoking spice, and almost a dozen more are being investigated. Yet, so far, the only problems reported by people smoking spice were nausea and headaches—the same complaints people may experience after smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco or drinking alcohol—actions that don’t necessitate the heavy-handed response.

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Energy Balance
The renovation of the U’s architecture building will aim to achieve what no other renovation has achieved in the country: zero net-energy use. The 40-year-old building’s improvements will include everything from improved insulation to its own source of energy generation. The end result could be a better than 80 percent reduction in the building’s energy use. Students will even be able to monitor their own personal energy use, which should definitely discourage their web-surfing and game playing during class.

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Shifting Blame
Gov. Gary Herbert opposed all tax increases, then he kinda-sorta supported the tobacco tax because the $43 million in revenue (out of a $11 billion budget) saved education funding, created jobs and possibly helped discover life on other planets. At least, that seemed to be the message from Herbert in the waning days of the session, and his tacit support of the tax helped get it passed. But wait ... he promised no tax increases, right? So, when it came time to actually sign the bill, Herbert chose the political equivalent of calling in sick and simply letting the bill become a law without his signature. That way, he can claim that he did not actually violate his no-tax-increase vow, while also claiming that the state was able to balance the budget because of the hard work by legislators and his office. It’s a dazzling attempt at a two-step, but the fact remains that Herbert, as governor, oversaw a tax increase.

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Josh Loftin

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