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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Pursuing the Olympic Games is about our children

Originally published in Utah Business.

All of us have memories of when the Olympic movement first touched our lives. Mine was in 1986 when Tom Welch, then in charge of Utah’s Olympic bid, called the governor’s planning office, and I picked up the phone. He was calling from an airport payphone, on his way home from a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) meeting. The USOC had decided to drop Anchorage, Alaska, as the U.S. bid city and open up the competition to others. Tom wanted to know if he could count on the economists in the governor’s office to help prepare Salt Lake City’s bid. This phone call started a 32-year connection for me with Utah’s Olympic movement that continues today.

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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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Themes for a New Year: Storylines, Words and Phrases in 2018

Originally published in Utah Business.

At the end of every year, news entities, language companies and others select a word or phrase of the year. In 2017, Merriam-Webster selected “feminism” because of the Women’s March in Washington D.C., the #MeToo movement and other instances of women speaking their minds.

Oxford Dictionaries picked the noun “youthquake” to describe the significant cultural, political or social revolution arising from what Oxford calls the actions and influence of young people in 2017. Other entities selected “complicit,” “resist,” “taking a knee” and even “covfefe,” a word Pres. Donald Trump tweeted that’s meaning remains in dispute.

These words all say something about the intensity of 2017. It got me thinking about what words or phrases would prospectively capture Utah events and stories in 2018.

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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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A Recipe for Holiday Joy throughout the Year

Originally published in Utah Business.

The holidays are in full stride. Downtown shines with holiday lights and our homes radiate with gifts, menorahs, nativities and pine trees. We sip cider, sing carols to neighbors and celebrate with loved ones. This is the season of joy.

Joy is a wonderful word. We feel joy at the most important moments in our lives—graduation, marriage, childbirth and special events with loved ones. Some people name their children “Joy” as an expression of their happiness. When we feel joy, we feel a lightness, jubilation and high spirits. Joyfulness is possibly the most positive human emotion.

I recently asked myself the question, “What is the secret to lasting joy or happiness?” This question seems particularly relevant during the holiday season when we surround ourselves with loved ones and sing songs of joy.

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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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Writings and Reflections