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Paul Rolly: Legislative UFO buzzes the Utah Capitol

Published March 5, 2014 12:15 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As Gov. Gary Herbert met with his staff last week to finalize the rollout of his alternative to House Speaker Becky Lockhart's Medicaid plan, a UFO appeared outside his window and hovered there for several minutes.

The spaceship-looking device, about the size of a garbage can lid, contained a camera that was focused on Herbert and his brain trust, as though it was taking pictures of whatever the governor planned to unveil.

Was it an NSA drone?



No.

Was it al-Qaida?

Nah.

Was it Putin?

Nope?

Obama?

Not likely.

It was the Utah Legislature — or at least some of its members.

Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, is a homebuilder and developer. He owns the drone, which he flies to take aerial shots of his construction projects.

He brought it to Capitol Hill last week and, in a moment of levity, let some of his colleagues play with it on the grass.

Using a remote, they guided the craft to just outside the governor's window, where they let it buzz around for a while.

Joining Wilson in the "sting" operation were Reps. Mel Brown, R-Coalville; Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi; and House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, as well as lobbyists Alan Dayton and Kate Bradshaw.

It's unclear if they were able to capture any trade secrets from the governor's office, but there is some irony.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, is sponsoring SB167, which would bar law enforcement agencies from obtaining data through an unmanned aerial vehicle without a search warrant from a judge.

The bill says nothing, however, about legislators flying drones to spy on the government.

Job killers • Here is another bit of irony for all those Utah legislators who rail against environmental regulations and castigate clean-air advocates as blasphemous job killers. (My favorite is Rep. Jerry Anderson, R-Price, a retired science teacher, no less, who said we need more carbon dioxide in the air.)

After his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of Economic Development Corp. of Utah was asked by Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, about a rumor the lawmaker had heard.

Dabakis wondered if it was true that the top brass of a major corporation came to Salt Lake City to discuss locating in Utah and that one of the executives called state officials the next day to say the company would not come, largely because of the dirty air.

Edwards, who appeared before lawmakers to speak in favor of tax credits for electric cars, confirmed the story was true.

He told me later that details must remain confidential, but it was a big project involving several hundred jobs. He also said the incident occurred two years ago, but many companies, when considering a location, put a high priority on quality of life for their employees, including environmental issues such as air quality.

Rest of the story • I have written about Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' official website, which included the Thomas Jefferson quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

That would bring up the question: Who is the tyrant, and is Reyes advocating revolution?

But the attorney general's office has since let me know that was not Reyes' chosen quote. It had already been on the website and Reyes, who assumed the job barely two months ago, had not had time to change it.

The quote has been removed and another, more appropriate patriotic saying, will take its place.

Mark this as another matter the new attorney general has had to clean up from his predecessors, Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow.

prolly@sltrib.com —

 

 

 

 

 

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