Utah Legislature helps, hurts state entities

Published: Friday, March 12 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

HELPED: The Department of Environmental Quality by agreeing to increase fees collected for hazardous, municipal and solid waste.

HURT: The EPA's feelings by endorsing a resolution that asserts carbon dioxide should not be regulated until climate change science can be proven.

HELPED: People and business owners in conserving water by legalizing the harvesting of rainwater up to certain amounts.

HURT: Energy conservation efforts and preservation of natural resources by refusing to encourage the creation of "green" schools in Utah.

HELPED: Utah's air quality by urging elimination of all "unnecessary idling" of motor vehicles.

HURT: Powder Mountain residents being forced into a town without the chance to vote.

HELPED: Certain municipal solid waste handlers by allowing garbage to be classified as a renewable energy source.

HURT: Weber State University because the Utah Board of Regents has yet to approve an electrical engineering degree and a bill requiring them to do so never made it out of the House.

HELPED: Utahns who want to honor Ogden gun maker John M. Browning by commemorating the 100th anniversary of his famous pistol on Jan. 24, 2011, the first day of the 2011 Legislature.

HURT: Individuals or agencies that donate $250,000 or more to Utah colleges and universities, since they may no longer remain anonymous because lawmakers believe transparency is necessary to avoid bias in educational direction.

HELPED: Pets and their owners by requiring animal shelters to now check tags and call owners.

HURT: Higher education institutions by slashing their budgets, making for a total 13 percent cut at a time when enrollments are surging.

HELPED: Landlords by not having to disclose trace amounts of methamphetamine on their properties.

HURT: Smokers' pocketbooks due to a $1 increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes.

HELPED: Possibly prevent people from smoking due to the increased cost of cigarettes.

HURT: Small Utah businesses by implementing a new piece of government regulation to screen employees for the legal right to work, though the mandate does not come with a penalty for failure to do so.

HELPED: People with prosthetic limbs by mandating that private insurance companies cover the devices worn by amputees at the same insurance benefit level that Medicare covers joint replacements.

HURT: Future public employees by cutting generous retirement benefits due to changes in the state retirement system prompted by a $6 billion hole in the account that covers the checks for those in their post-service years.

HELPED: Those who believe that malpractice reform is necessary to getting control over medical care costs with a landmark agreement between trial lawyers and health care providers to participate in a voluntary pilot project that brings them together when a procedure hasn't worked to talk about what went wrong.

HURT: Patients, including children, who require treatment at the state mental hospital in Provo, a facility described by one lawmaker as a "pig hole." Patients won't get a new facility any time soon because lawmakers nixed money to start planning renovations.

HELPED: Hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders who can receive treatment instead of jail with a $1.5 million appropriation to the Drug Offender Recovery Act.

HURT: Supporters of citizens' initiatives who will have to cope with a much easier process to have names removed from their petitions, as opponents will have 30 days after the lists are submitted to talk people into erasing their names.

HELPED: The state's 2,600 children in foster families, as a proposed 3 percent cut that was pending until late Thursday will not be imposed in state payments to foster parents.

HURT: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents who will not benefit from any new antidiscrimination statutes after a deal between proponents and opponents of the idea to wait on any legislation.

HELPED: Utah Valley University, which finally got the nod to build a new science education building in order to accommodate the growing number of students there.

HURT: Working mothers with rejection of a bill that would provide greater protections for mothers who want to nurse in the workplace.

HELPED: Gun owners, as people with concealed weapon permits may be able to carry their firearms into more businesses and, if threatened, display their weapons.

HURT: The decision to opt out of the mandates of the federal REAL ID Act could mean consequences, though no state has met the compliance deadline.

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