Rolly: Another official state symbol: skiing
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Now that Utah has its very own official state gun, courtesy of Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, another legislator has decided it is high time for the state to have an official winter sport, maybe so folks don't confuse the two.

Rep. Steven Eliason, R-Cottonwood Heights, has pre-filed a bill for the 2012 general session that would designate two popular past-times as Utah's combined official state winter sports: skiing and snowboarding.

And while the bill designating the John M. Browning M1911 automatic pistol the official state firearm seemed to many to be a message bill intended to seduce the tea party, Eliason's idea actually has some practical implications.

Colorado already has designated skiing as its official state winter sport, a gesture that has helped in its marketing efforts to attract tourism. Last year, Colorado registered 12 million ski days while Utah, the host of the 2002 Winter Olympics but with fewer resorts, registered just over 4 million ski days.

It's still not clear how having an official state gun will boost tourism, although Utah does have as its official state star, the Dubhe, pronounced "doobie," a common term for a marijuana joint.

But even that could get confusing because Utah already has an official state grass: Indian ricegrass.

And while the Beehive State might be trying to catch up with Colorado's tourism industry by trumpeting both skiing and snowboarding, the Centennial State still is a step ahead, even without its own gun.

The Colorado Legislature is considering adding to its list of symbols an official summer sport: pack burro racing.

Of the people? •During the debate on health care reform, officials holding town meetings on the subject were blind-sided by what appeared to be organized tea party protesters who took over the meetings by screaming at anyone who disagreed with them.

Now, it seems the situation has flipped: The public official is the bully at his or her own town meeting.

Case in point: Sen. Mike Lee's town hall meeting in St. George on Sept. 1.

Participant Braden Lindstrom tells me that after Lee ballyhooed a balanced budget amendment and oil drilling as solutions to our problems, he took questions from the audience and called on a select number of people who raised their hands. His chief of staff, Spencer Stokes, held a wireless microphone for people to ask questions and he would not give up the mic to the questioner. Once the question was asked he would walk away with the mic, leaving no opportunity to a follow-up question if Lee gave an unsatisfactory answer.

Before the meeting, some folks were holding signs that said "jobs, not cuts," and "compromise is not a dirty word." They were approached and reprimanded by a large member of Lee's staff.

When Lindstrom tried to comment that there were positive aspects to the health care reform, he says he was shouted down by Stokes.

So much for hearing from the people.

That's not all • At least Lee held a meeting in person.

U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat, just has telephone town hall meetings. And one constituent complained to me that at the last one, held Wednesday from 6:55 to 7:55 p.m., he was sent a notice through an email on Tuesday at 10:35 a.m. In order to participate, he needed to call a toll-free number at 4 p.m. that same day. Unfortunately, he didn't see the email until he got home from work, after the deadline.

At a previous telephone town hall meeting, another of Matheson's constituents called in, but when he was asked what his question would be, his response apparently was not received well. He sat on hold for over an hour and was never called upon to ask his question.

Then there is Rep. Rob Bishop. He not only has telephone town hall meetings, in order to participate, his staff calls you — you don't get to call him. So they choose who will be involved in the meeting.

prolly@sltrib.com