Seems some of the 2014 Utah legislature, composed of mainly one party, didn’t heed Mark Twain’s saying, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
Once in office, they seem to forget the principles they keep saying they stand for, and then ignore them in their lawmaking. They say they are against big government and then file more than 1,000 bills that often don’t produce much except more needless bureaucracies, regulations and wasted tax dollars. In many instances, their laws end up doing what they complain about the feds doing: creating unfunded mandates local governments have to absorb. It appears hypocritical.
They constantly complain about federal control and say they fight for local control. Then they proceed to dictate how to run local schools, teach students and promulgate more regulations and bureaucracies for public education, while at the same time allowing home-schooled students more freedom and flexibility from statewide requirements.
They stifle local school boards from seeking creative ways of financing schools, including contracting with the federal government, without first seeking permission at the top of the state bureaucracy. They propose a law that has intricate formulas for grading schools that produces a report card that somehow ends up being another autopsy on our education system. Lawmakers propose to take away rule-making authority from the state school board, which is the agency under the state constitution responsible for the public education system.
Legislators say they are big on liberty and personal responsibility, yet they pass laws that dictate how we should conduct our lives and the choices we make. Personal responsibility becomes what is in the eye of the lawmaker. Their lawmaking is often based on personal whims, or what may be the idea of the day, rather than thoughtful study to see if government intervention is necessary for the public good.
They want to dictate what we can drink and even when and how we can and cannot use which parts of our cellphones as we drive. They create a law on truancy, one for “good” students and another for all others. Count My Vote was people taking personal responsibility by making their voices heard, and then legislators ripped the rug out from under them.
Legislators refuse to take federal money when it comes to helping poor Utahns obtain affordable health care because they don’t trust the federal government to keep its word, yet they fight to get federal dollars for transportation without any trepidation. For two years, they have kept refusing to accept federal money for health care yet wasted little time voting to move the prison, for which they don’t know the cost (estimated at $750 million in 2005), or where to relocate it, or what the future of the criminal justice system should be.
Somehow, some of the current slate of legislators seem to only give lip service to their principles, then do the opposite. Issues may change; principles should not. And, unlike in an active two-party legislature, there is no one to challenge Utah state lawmakers. Their colleagues don’t because they are more concerned about their own legislation.
If they are unwilling to take the time for self-reflection and keep their word, then it is up to us as voters to hold them accountable for the trust we have placed in them. We need a government with integrity and one we can trust.
Utah native John Florez served on the U.S. Senate Labor Committee, as Utah industrial commissioner and filled White House appointments, including deputy assistant secretary of labor and on the Commission on Hispanic Education. Email: jdflorez@comcast