In advance of the 2014 Legislature, the Deseret News has again identified five issues that very much matter to Utah families.

Beginning today and continuing through this week, we explore these critical issues.

Air quality:

Brown air lying in Wasatch valleys is ugly and portends menacing health challenges, especially for our children and our elderly. The same mountains that bring beauty to Utah trap dirty air in our populated valleys, creating unusual obstacles to cleaning our air. But specific and coordinated efforts can have a cumulative, and appreciable, benefit.


Early engagement with education promises lifelong benefits to every child. Once on a love-of-learning road, students matriculate to college, careers and productively contributing to our society. While early childhood education is best done in the home, not all children have that blessing. Public educators need more money. But increased funding alone won’t solve this problem. Innovation is also essential.

Liquor policy:

Utah liquor laws are both accommodating to those who responsibly consume alcohol and protective of the public health. Despite suggestions that laws need to be “modernized,” both economic development and public health data clearly show no value in changing those laws.

Intergenerational poverty:

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Poverty is a horrible condition. Poverty passed from generation to generation is an unconscionable waste of the human spirit. Now 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson, in announcing his War on Poverty, asserted that “the cause (of poverty) may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities…,” policies need to be refined and refocused to address causes, rather than symptoms.

Economic development:

Strong families rely on a stable financial foundation. Utah workers — be they high-tech, blue-collar, service or professional — are good workers. Government’s job is to enhance economic development and allow the free market to create prosperity.