Seismic matter • A bill that has stalled in the Utah House should be revived and passed. It is not much more than a recognition that some schools in the state would be unsafe during an earthquake, but that would at least be a start toward fixing what could be a major public-safety problem. Right now nobody knows just how many schools would probably collapse on Utah schoolchildren during a temblor, let alone how much it might cost to make them safe. That information is crucial. HB278 would require school districts to conduct a cursory evaluation of schools' seismic strength any time the district floats a bond for school construction or renovation. It's not enough, but it's a start. Some opponents say it would be an unfunded mandate on school districts. But other mandates are embraced when they further a particular ideological value, such as charter schools or online courses. Funding was found to renovate the Capitol. Schoolchildren are at least as valuable as state officials and employees.
Hang up and drive • Should Utahns under 18 be prohibited from talking on cellphones hand-held or otherwise and especially from sending text messages while driving? Certainly. That's what Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, would do in his HB103. It's an important public-safety measure responding to studies that show distracted drivers are as dangerous as drunken drivers. But the bill doesn't go far enough. The studies don't look only at young drivers. Older drivers using cellphones also pose a serious danger to themselves and others. All cellphone use by drivers should be banned.