To: Rep. McKell, M.,
Subject: Recent legislative actions
Sadly, the annual legislative games seem to have begun. To say that I am ‘beyond angry’ by two recent actions taken by the august body known as the Utah State Legislature is a vast understatement. Specifically:
· Tabling the LGBT non-discrimination law in closed session of the GOP caucus was ‘business as usual’ and totally disgusting. Utah deserves better. But more to the point, I fail to see how ensuring fair and non-discriminatory treatment for ALL of our citizens threatens those who by virtue of birth have heterosexual rather than same-sex attractions. Rather, ongoing discrimination against some harms us all. The non-discrimination bill had nothing to do with the marriage issue which probably does need make its way through the courts before any other legislative action is taken. But in contrast, the non-discrimination bill was widely supported by Utah citizens. Utah’s reputation as a state willing to actively and vocally deny LGBT citizens their rights will continue to drive a disproportionate number of our LGBT kids to suicide. But that issue of basic moral justice aside, these actions hurt the state economically, as more and more companies take such issues into consideration when deciding where to locate.
· Second, I just saw that someone is introducing a bill that will dramatically increase registration fees on clean energy vehicles. 5,000 of us tried to send a message in person two Saturday’s ago that clean air should be the number one priority for this legislative session. We are literally choking on and dying from this filth. SB139 is such a slap in the face to our concerns that it makes total mockery of any notion of ‘representation’ or government ‘for the people’. Please do something to fix the problem, rather than taking steps that, by any common sense assessment, can only serve to make the problem worse. Along with that I would again urge you to support the various bills aimed at reducing the air pollution we are exposed to along the Wasatch Front.
· Finally, I also noted that the prison relocation committee came back with a ‘positive’ report. My understanding was that the legislative mandate did not give them a choice—simply they were to determine ‘where not if’ the prison was to be moved. It really is time to back up and figure out what is needed to reduce our prison population via prevention, altered sentencing guidelines, rehabilitation programs, etc. Beyond that, we need to determine the type and configuration of services that we need, keeping in mind that the primary goal should be rehabilitation. Please, please do not go forward with plans to relocate the prison without addressing those basic and very important questions first. This should not be about lining the pockets of real estate developers.
· Finally, I would reiterate my opposition to the bill that would eliminate the need for gun safety training for kids wanting a hunting license. Simple common sense is needed to keep our kids safe.
Ellen Brady, MD, MPH