Better UTAH Beat Episode 42 – March 26, 2013

The following is the transcript from this week’s Better UTAH Beat. It aired on March 126, 2013.
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This is Maryann Martindale of the Alliance for a Better UTAH and welcome to this week’s edition of the Better UTAH Beat.

Nearly two months ago, House Speaker Becky Lockhart started off the 2013 legislative session with a not-so-veiled threat to the governor: Veto more bills.

“The governor doesn’t use the veto pen as often as he should,” Lockhart said. “There’s got to be more than one or two things he disagrees with, right?”

Lockhart’s throw down was answered by the Governor late last week when he vetoed HB76, the controversial law that would allow Utahns to carry a concealed weapon without the training needed to get a concealed-carry permit.

Herbert cited two prominent reasons for why he vetoed the bill. First, Herbert thought that the current concealed carry law, which requires a background check and at least some firearm training, is a working system that doesn’t need to be changed.

His second reason for vetoing the bill was an appeal to Utah’s own concern for the image it projects to the rest of the world–a concern that Herbert’s economic and development team are particularly aware of. So, when deciding to veto the bill, Herbert did so with an eye to making sure outsiders don’t have one more reason to think of us as, in Herbert’s words, “the wild and woolly West.”

But politics being what they are, there’s still plenty of opportunities to show Utah’s wild and woolly side. Lockhart’s throwdown could be exposed as the powerplay it is if the legislature decides to meet to override Governor Herbert’s veto. The bill passed the state legislature the first time with a veto-proof majority–a 2 vote margin in the Senate and a 1 vote margin in the House. But with such a close vote, the governor’s leadership could likely be sufficient to persuade at least a few of the bill’s supporters to back down.

It’s worth noting that Governor Herbert hasn’t been alone in his reasonable decision to veto the law. The republican governor of another western state, South Dakota, also vetoed a bill similar to the one our own legislature passed. And then there is the call from the Salt Lake Tribune, Bishop Wester of the Catholic Diocese, as well as the hundreds of Utahns who signed Better UTAH’s petition to veto the controversial gun bill. Herbert has more than enough cover.

The Governor’s veto is just a drop in the bucket in the large scheme of things. Nearly 500 bills were passed this last legislative session, and the governor has so far only vetoed one of them. And in the last several years, he hasn’t vetoed many more. But even though the percentage of vetoes compared to the total volume of bills passed is small, the symbolic value is huge. The last prominent veto was the Governor’s decision to nix the state legislature’s attempt to rid public schools of sex education. The people of Utah were overwhelmingly opposed to the legislature’s move. The same is true of the concealed carry law.

Brigham Young University conducted a poll last month that showed that 82% of Utahns support universal background checks. HB76 would have rolled back the otherwise reasonable requirement that Utahns submit to a background check and some degree of training when they choose to conceal carry.

It should be a cause of great concern to the people of Utah that 70 percent of the state legislature would agree to liberalizing Utah gun laws when 80 percent of Utahns support more reasonable gun policy.

The legislature obviously isn’t listening to Utahns. And Utahns, unfortunately, aren’t paying attention to their legislators–if they were, they might vote into office individuals that adhere more to similar political beliefs. In the meantime, we should be thankful that Utah’s highest political office respects the will of the majority of Utahns. Governor Herbert doesn’t always get it right, but when he does, well, we’ll be the first to say – well done.

This is Maryann Martindale with this week’s edition of the Better UTAH Beat.

Have a great week, and remember, together, we can make a better Utah.

For more information, visit betterutah.org.

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