Category Archives: Deseret News Columns

It’s been a banner legislative session

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The final votes are in. The Utah Legislature completed a banner legislative session. Victory goes to the residents of Utah as the legislature passed visionary, bold and meaningful legislation that will keep Utah prosperous over the long term.

Success has many fathers, but I attribute the success of the 2018 legislative session to the combined leadership of House Speaker Greg Hughes and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, both of whom have announced their retirement. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service.

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Here’s why the Utah Legislature should pass an earned income tax credit

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The prominent journalist and author Megan McArdle once observed that Utah is “a bit like Sweden … if it were run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” This statement captures something truly special about the Beehive State — we care for the common good but do it in an evidenced-based and fiscally conservative way.

The Utah Legislature has the chance to build upon Utah’s innovative and conservative public policy reputation by supporting an earned income tax credit (EITC) for Utah families trapped in poverty. Here’s why the Legislature should pass HB57: Utah Intergenerational Poverty Work and Self-Sufficiency Tax Credit.

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The feminine connection to the Olympic flame

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The eyes of the world will be on Pyeongchang, South Korea, this week as torchbearers light the cauldron for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. If you are like me, the Olympic flame will capture your imagination and inspire you with its spellbinding power. It represents the light of life and celebrates the indomitable spirit and extraordinary achievement of Olympic athletes and, by extension, ourselves.

Few people know about the flame’s feminine origins. I witnessed the importance of women and the Olympic flame when I attended the ritual lighting ceremony for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games torch relay in the ancient city of Olympia, Greece. I credit some measure of the power of the flame to the feminine divine expressed in this thought-provoking ceremony.

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The SLC International Airport is a first-class gift to Utah’s economy

Originally published in the Deseret News.

I just completed eight years of service on the Salt Lake City International Airport Board. During this time, I observed air traffic controllers doing their stressful work, TSA officers screening luggage in their high-tech monitoring area, airline employees supervising the automated luggage sorting system, airport police working with their bomb-detecting dogs, a wildlife officer keeping birds away from the jets using pyrotechnics and raptor traps and the incredible airport staff servicing more than 23 million travelers annually. The SLC Airport is a wonder to behold.

As instructive as all of these experiences have been, none compare to the importance of the day I held a ceremonial shovel in my hand and helped break ground on the new SLC Airport. This completely new airport is a first-class gift to the Utah economy and on my list of the top three most important economic events of the past 15 years (the other two are I-15 reconstruction and the hosting of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games). We need to recognize this gift, express our gratitude to those involved and then enjoy the fruits of this massive investment in our future.

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President Monson leaves a living legacy for all of Utah

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The day after Thomas S. Monson died, I taped a radio program in downtown Salt Lake City. As I interacted with people at the station — both LDS and non-LDS — I noticed a divergence in their views about the LDS prophet’s passing. Understandably, they viewed President Monson’s death as a main event for participating members of the LDS faith, but not a big deal for others. I disagree.

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Correcting the record: Finding the right balance with public lands

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Editor’s note: Natalie Gochnour’s column published Wednesday, Dec. 6, stated that she was denied “final approval” to attend the signing event associated with President Donald Trump’s Salt Lake City visit this week due to her ideological differences with the president. Gochnour, however, is now confident that there was no political screening. What follows is her re-written column correcting the record.

I previously wrote in this column about being politically screened from President Trump’s historic visit to the Utah State Capitol. Unfortunately, I wrote with limited information and didn’t have all the facts right. The Trump administration did not screen me for ideological reasons; it turns out there was just a ton of demand for tickets, a chaotic process, miscommunication and an impossible timeline.

I’m writing to correct the record, which I think is only fair. It’s awkward for me, but I will do my best to share a few thoughts on public land management and continue to give voice to people who feel like I do about the Trump administration.

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Utah economic advice — stop, look and listen

Originally published in the Deseret News.

John Maynard Keynes said, “It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong.” I’m going to make an attempt to be vaguely right about Utah’s near-term economic forecast. The Utah economy has started to moderate. I think this modest growth will continue and now is a good time for businesses and households to “stop, look and listen.”

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Dispatches from Jordan to Israel, pt. 4: Western Wall blessing for our governor

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Editor’s Note: Natalie Gochnour traveled recently on a trade mission to Jordan and Israel led by the World Trade Center Utah. The Deseret News asked Gochnour to write about her experiences. In this, her final dispatch, Gochnour shares the highlights of the trip through a few stories and quotes.
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

I kept Twain’s quote in mind as the Utah delegation immersed itself in business and political diplomacy. I return to Salt Lake City with a treasure trove of broad, wholesome and charitable views. Here are a few takeaways:

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Dispatches from Jordan to Israel, part 3: Welcome to Startup Nation

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Editor’s note: Natalie Gochnour is traveling this week on a trade mission in Jordan and Israel led by the World Trade Center Utah. The Deseret News asked Gochnour to write about her experiences. In this, the third dispatch, Gochnour describes Israel’s economic success and what Utah can learn.

Warren Buffet once said, “If you’re going to the Middle East to look for oil, you can skip Israel. If you’re looking for brains, look no further.”

I’ve felt that brainpower the past two days as we’ve met with businesses in Tel Aviv and visited Hebrew University in Jerusalem. There is a vibe and energy here that is unmistakable. This is Startup Nation.

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