A bill to block public access to tapes of police shootings is also expected to be vetoed.

A bill to block public access to tapes of police shootings is also expected to be vetoed.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Spencer Cox is emotional as he speaks about HB11, which just passed, during a press conference on Friday, March 4, 2022. He says this bill will be discussed. an immediate veto.

Governor Spencer Cox so rarely pulls out his veto pen that one might wonder if he even knows where it is kept. It is therefore remarkable that he pledges, virtually at the time a bill is passed by the Utah Legislature, to apply the executive negative to any measure.

He rightly did just that with HB11, a bill that would ban transgender girls from playing interscholastic sports in Utah. It’s a cruel and needless attack on human beings who are struggling enough to negotiate adolescence without the state legislature doing everything possible to hate them.

While he has that pen in hand, Cox would be well advised to veto HB399 as well. It is a bill that would remove documents from the public eye that are crucial for the public to understand how their police departments and other public bodies behave at critical times, especially when people are killed by police officers.

It is troubling that Cox has already announced his intention to sign this bill, although there is still time for him to change his mind.

One thing the two bills have in common, besides being particularly appalling public policy, is that they each went through the legislative process in a way that suggests lawmakers knew how bad each was and hoped no one would notice what they were doing.

We noticed.

An attack on transgender students

A decision last year to ban transgender girls from playing sports died in the final days of the session, under threat of a veto from the governor and fears it could spark a national boycott of Utah events , including the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.

By the morning of the last day of the 2022 session, it had become a special commission that would literally take the measure of any transgender girl who wanted to participate in school sports and decide on a case-by-case basis whether each individual human being would somehow have an unfair advantage. compete with other girls.

It’s a horribly invasive idea, which was certainly not an improvement over the existing policy of the body that should be making these decisions, the Utah High School Athletics Association. This organization limits participation to transgender girls who have had at least one year of hormone therapy, which is clearly enough to limit the sport to those who are fully committed to transitioning, and all the physical and psychological pressures that come with it, and filter out anyone who might just fish smaller, weaker opponents. If such a person even exists.

But, while the time for the legislative elections was running out, the fear of the Other got the better of a majority of legislators. Moving past a compromise LGBTQ advocates thought they had reached with lawmakers, Senator Dan McCay introduced the amended bill in the Senate with literally hours before the final constitutionally mandated hammer. And a few hours after the deadline for any candidate to file their candidacy against the lawmakers in place.

Cox said he was “very disappointed with the process.” Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson tweeted Friday, “In my 10 years on Capitol Hill, I have never felt so sick of the debate or outcome of a bill as I did this one tonight. Veto is the right choice.

The good news is that enough Republicans joined all minority Democrats in voting against the explosive version of HB11 that Cox’s veto is likely to uphold. This time, hopefully, for good.

Closing of the files of the police shootings

The odds aren’t as good for HB399, the bill that would exempt so-called Garrity statements from the state’s open archives law. This bill, a direct response to efforts by the Salt Lake Tribune and other reporters to tell the truth about police shootings in Utah, allows agencies to keep the lid on statements by officers who, through of Garrity v. New Jersey of the United States Supreme Court in 1967, can be demanded by police departments but cannot be used to charge an officer with a crime.

The wisdom of the Supreme Court is that the Constitution protects anyone, even a police officer accused of killing someone in questionable circumstances, from having to testify against themselves in criminal proceedings. But in internal affairs, police departments must be allowed to demand full and truthful statements from their officers if they are to assess policies and performance.

Without access to these statements, it is also impossible for the public, under whose authority and on whose behalf the police operate, to know what these officers are doing and whether the public should demand change.

HB399 was also rushed through the process, receiving only a brief committee hearing in the House and no public release at all in the Senate, before it was overwhelmingly passed by both houses. Even if Cox works up the courage to veto it, that decision will likely be reversed.

He should veto it anyway. And voters should let their legislators know that this time they want them to vote against HB399.

Cox should also give lawmakers a second chance — or, more accurately, a first chance — to really consider HB146. It is a bill amended at the last minute, without public input, to prohibit any local control of noisy ATVs on public roads.

Utah lawmakers have no respect for the public they serve

The disregard of our legislature for the people they are supposed to represent is appalling. Its propensity to propose, pretend to consider and then pass major legislation in such haste is a particularly bad habit that is the result of the Republican supermajority not feeling the need to involve the public in its deliberations.

The same thing happened at the start of the session, when the legislature collapsed to remove appropriate authority for public health measures from local health departments and school boards. And to pass an income tax cut that will starve state functions, primarily public schools, of $192 million a year.

Some of the legislature’s accomplishments — including a series of bills to protect the Great Salt Lake and conserve the precious water of this dry state — demonstrate that lawmakers can deliberate their way to a good outcome whenever they want. .

When they don’t, it should be incumbent on the governor to use his constitutional power to at least slow the lawmakers’ race for bad ideas.

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