Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: As spring arrives, our thoughts on all the hot topics

Published: Sunday, March 31 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Legislators meet during the final day of legislature at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City Thursday, March 14, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Spring has finally arrived — along with pollen and mold infestations. In both weather and politics, good things sometimes come with a little bad, and vice versa. With itchy eyes, we address a few current topics.

Will the legislature override the governor's veto of legislation that would have allowed Utahns to carry concealed weapons without permits?

Pignanelli: "There are times when even the most potent governor must wink at transgression, in order to preserve the laws inviolate for the future." — Herman Melville

Gov. Gary Herbert is morphing into the wise old schoolmarm who deftly handles unruly schoolchildren, with the occasional spanking.

His response to controversial legislation is getting better and better. HB477 (2011) was initially bungled but his GRAMA work group performed well and deserves credit for enhancing government accountability. He seemed distraught over the veto of the sex education bill (2012). But, last week he gave the gun bill a quick review with little consternation, then spanked legislators for misbehavior.

The supposed origin behind HB76 was the arrest of a rancher who inadvertently allowed a winter coat to cover his firearm. There were rumors on Capitol Hill that no such person exists and gun activists have weighed in on either side, limiting political blowback. These are considerations for lawmakers' deliberations in challenging Herbert. Furthermore, legislators will be judging a matter outside a legislative session where sharp elbows and a herd mentality can influence decision-making. Many lawmakers do not want another public debate on the matter and will quietly express their opposition to additional discussions — thereby preventing the veto override.

Webb: Gun rights activists are putting a lot of pressure on legislators, but it's likely the veto will stand. Some lawmakers who voted for the legislation against their better judgment are secretly pleased the governor vetoed it. I own a half dozen guns, although I've never been interested in obtaining a concealed carry permit. At least under current law, if a law-abiding citizen is carrying a concealed weapon, we know that person has had some screening and training via the permitting process.

Certainly, the permit requirement isn't going to prevent criminals from carrying guns. But allowing almost anyone to carry a hidden weapon undoubtedly means more people who shouldn't be packing weapons will do so — young people, borderline criminals, some with semi-serious mental health problems. Having that admittedly low barrier of the permitting process makes it just a little harder for someone who probably shouldn't be carrying a concealed weapon to do so.

Mitt Romney has made a reemergence on the national scene through appearances on talk shows, speeches at conservative conventions and now will be hosting a pricey Republican policy festival at Park City in June. Is there a role for Romney in national politics?

Pignanelli: I could be snotty and answer the question with the following: "It depends on which Mitt Romney shows up." However, this is Easter Sunday, and I will avoid such nastiness. Gov. Romney is an articulate intelligent politician who could impact national discussions if he continually provides a thoughtful detailed plan on how our economy could be revitalized. By illustrating such guidance, a future Republican president could appoint him to a high-profile position.

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