Legislative session begins, tax repeal introduced 10

Rep. Adam Robertson claps with other representatives after Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant delivered the State of the Judiciary Address as part of a joint session during the first day of the legislative session held at the Utah State Capitol on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

THUMBS UP: Congrats to League of Women Voters members in Utah celebrating the organization's 100th anniversary. We applaud their commitment to the community and desire to drive out indifference to major political issues that impact many local families. Utah needs less passivity in all levels of elections.

THUMBS UP: We love seeing local residents make the effort to preserve parts of Northern Utah's past, including the old Firehouse 2 for the Ogden Fire Department, which was recently put on the National Register of Historic Places after its owner worked with others to apply for the designation. The 800-square-foot home is a beautiful little piece of history, and we hope it continues to pique the curiosity of neighbors in Ogden.

THUMBS UP: The Utah Legislature is currently considering a bill that could end straight-ticket ballots, with the aim to "encourage thoughtful voting." We encourage Northern Utah senators to give pause to this bill, which would require voters to give significantly more consideration and research to candidates running in a given race. Utah should embrace a thoughtful electorate, regardless of party, because is enables the election of politicians through deliberate choice.

THUMBS DOWN: It may be the 21 century, but that doesn't mean Utahns have mastered the correct disposal of waste. Apparently, Wasatch Front Water Quality Council has observed such prevalence in clogged sewer lines that it's hoping the Legislature will award it $150,000 to educate residents on the things they cannot flush down the toilet. The campaign is being called "Toilets Are Not Trash Cans" and seeks to teach Utahns they should not flush wet wipes, pills, feminine products and other objects in toilets. Come on, people.

THUMBS DOWN: One bill so far in the Legislature has gotten quite a lot of attention due to its unusual nature, despite good intentions. Lawmakers want a warning label on printed and digital pornography that would alert minors to the harm and impacts it has on their development. It's a noble aim, and we do not endorse the promotion of pornography. However, we are concerned that this bill is not feasible in being carried out by distributors across the world, and will only bring costly lawsuits to the state in defense of First Amendment rights violations the taxpayers will have to foot. The bill wants to grant the the Utah Attorney General's Office authority to sue those sharing the material without warning labels for $2,500 for each violation. Does this office have enough personnel and resources to take on an influx of cases this bill will result in? And what are the odds the state will actually gain funding from this action, rather than spend thousands if not millions of dollars trying to enforce it?

THUMBS DOWN: A case elsewhere in Utah could have ramifications for cities across the Wasatch. According to an article by reporter Connor Richards, a Fourth District Court judge ruled on Wednesday that Pleasant Grove’s transportation utility fee is not actually a fee but a tax, and therefore is being collected illegally. The utility fee (or TUF) was ruled by the judge as a tax and not a fee since the benefit of an improved road system “is a general benefit rather than a specific benefit to those who pay the fees.” North Ogden has similar utility fees that fund roads and transportation projects, according to Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, which funded the lawsuit. Because of this, it could spell problems for North Ogden, should the utility fees be found to be a tax.

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