Category Archives: Deseret News Columns

Who are the real heroes of election reform?

Originally published in the Deseret News.

This week, the Utah Legislature passed landmark legislation that will improve and modernize Utah’s election system. The compromise negotiated by Sen. Curt Bramble and Rep. Dan McCay preserves Utah’s caucus-convention system, institutes a direct primary option, and opens primaries to non-affiliated voters. The result is an election system that will be far more open and expand choices for candidates and voters. The legislation will do much to improve Utah’s abysmal voter participation, which has fallen to one of the bottom 10 states in the nation.

So who are the real heroes in this principled compromise?

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Time to raise Utah’s motor fuel tax

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.

This quip, made by Louisiana Sen. Russell Long, captures Utah’s approach to the motor fuel tax. We’ve been kicking the can down the road for 17 years. It’s time for a serious and informed discussion about raising Utah’s motor fuel tax to make up for lost purchasing power and improved fuel efficiency.

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Gov. Gary Herbert’s budget hits the mark

Originally published in the Deseret News.

This week Gov. Gary Herbert released his fiscal year 2015 budget. He recommended $13.3 billion in spending – a cool $36 million a day to pay for Utah’s education system, transportation network, human services, public safety and other important public functions. I worked in the state budget office for 18 years, and I think the governor got it right. Here’s my take on state finances:

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Utah needs more women in decision making roles

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Next week, Utahns will be summoned to the election booth to vote in municipal elections. Those who do will find far too few women on the ballot. And it’s not just at the ballot box: it’s in boardrooms and businesses. It’s even in our faith institutions. Women, for all of their native talents, are completely underrepresented in leadership positions. Our community is the lesser for it.

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Pope’s words worth pondering this weekend

Originally published in the Deseret News.

In addition to cooler weather and fall colors, this weekend Salt Lake City hosts the Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For many in this state, it’s a time of reflection, a pause for the betterment of self, community and the world. Ecclesiastical leaders of the state’s dominant faith tradition will provide counsel and comfort to members. It’s a big stage, a worldwide broadcast, and a great time to think about the things that matter to the soul.

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Best way to fight evil is to do something good

Originally published in the Deseret News.

I felt a certain sadness when I listened to Michelle Knight’s remarks at the sentencing hearing for Ariel Castro. Knight spent 11 years in hell under the repeated torture of Castro who had kidnapped her by saying he had a puppy for her son. In her riveting testimony, Knight told the courtroom she cried every night and the years turned into eternity. In the face of this human tragedy, we are left to wonder what we can do to make this world a better place.

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Utahns need to be more accepting of others

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Yesterday we celebrated our nation’s birthday. In less than three weeks we will celebrate what in Utah is an even bigger holiday — Pioneer Day. July is the month for patriotic revelry and pioneer celebration. As we think about our past and what others did for us, we should also think about our future and what we can do for others. Narrowing the cultural divide in Utah is a great place to start.

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Don’t rely on Utah’s best run state accolades

Originally published in the Deseret News.

We are fortunate in Utah to have had great governors through the years. I’ve had the pleasure of working directly with three of them — Norm Bangerter, Mike Leavitt and Olene Walker — and advising two of them — Jon Huntsman Jr., and Gary Herbert. I grew up admiring the service of Govs. Cal Rampton and Scott Matheson. To a person, Utah’s governors protect the public trust and serve as remarkable stewards of our state.

This stands in sharp contrast to a major state like Illinois where four of the past seven governors have served prison time. Leadership matters, and Utah is well led.

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