If anyone doubts the wisdom of the state constitutional limit of 45 days for the Utah legislative session, here is some math for you.
Our industrious and hardworking legislators averaged approval of a little more than 12 bills per calendar day -- 72 a week. By the end of the session, 544 new bills had been passed to swell the contents of our state statutes. Only a very few of these proposed new laws will ever be discussed by the general public.
This influx of new laws creates a feeling of mixed emotion in me.
I understand the need to adjust our laws, and I greatly appreciate the hard work of our legislators to make laws more serviceable and just. Laws often become outdated, and dollar amounts change or turn out to have been a bad idea. Yearly budgets are necessary to operate our government. Specific problems call out for solutions, and we want our laws to make our state a better place to live.
Yet, no single person -- no lawyer, no legislator, no citizen, no reporter, no one -- could assimilate and understand the implications and impact of all these changes to our laws in such a short time frame.
This inability to know and understand the changes in the law creates a sense of unease in me. The law should be something that is knowable to the citizenry. This is what gives the law its power and creates confidence in the government. Not knowing, or not being able to know, nudges people toward a sense of tyranny and injustice, at worst, and a loathing of bureaucracy and legislative bloat, at best, as each new law constricts public action a little more.
The Utah Constitution apparently figures that going through all the legislation passed in a 45-day session would be difficult for the governor as well. Unlike the federal pocket veto, where a passed bill is vetoed if it goes unsigned by the president, if Gov. Gary Herbert doesn't sign a bill, it becomes the law.
When this column was written, he had signed only 15 of the 544 bills passed, most of them budget bills passed early in the session.
One bill he signed stood out: House Bill 238: Cosmetology and Hair Braiding.
Hang on to your follicles, because the new law dropped the number of hours required for a cosmetology degree and exempts hair braiding from state licensure requirements.
The law does ensure your eyebrows are decidedly safer with the addition of arching, tinting and perming of eyebrows to the cosmetological practice of basic esthetics.
Having never had my eyebrows plucked by a professional, I still realized that this new law is going to have some impact.
Cosmetology schools will be affected because each student will be receiving 400 fewer hours of training. Students will pay less for their vocational training. The law may even result in cheaper eyebrows and haircuts with an influx of licensed cosmetologists.
I suppose there is also some concern that the overall beauty and aesthetics of the state will suffer with the drop in training of our cosmetologists, but if you are concerned about that, just make sure your barber/stylist was trained before Jan. 1, 2013.
Besides finding comfort in the governor's concern for the safety of our eyebrows, we can also rest a little easier because the Legislature is out of session and we won't have 72 more new laws to deal with next week.
E. Kent Winward is an Ogden attorney. He can be reached at 801-392-8200 or email@example.com.