Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, introduced a bill to tackle a troublesome trend: Children's doctor and dental bills going unpaid because the parent signing the obligation has no visible income and the income-producing parent's name is not on the contract.
But he quickly learned his well-intentioned plan could have unintended consequences.
Sandstrom's HB452 says a husband and wife may be sued jointly or individually for expenses of the family and education of the children, and that a creditor may recover from either the husband or wife, or both, when there is a written contract signed by either spouse.
As the bill was written, it could have undone what former Democratic lawmaker Dave Jones did more than 20 years ago. His bill held a divorced spouse harmless for debts incurred separately by the other spouse.
Jones sponsored the bill because a constituent was nailed for tens of thousands of dollars of debt incurred by her ex-husband, who ran up the credit card bills while they were separated and then filed for bankruptcy.
Once Sandstrom heard of the Jones effort years ago, he made sure he wasn't setting up a situation where another innocent spouse could be harmed.
Sandstrom's substitute bill specifies that the debts apply to both spouses only if they are incurred while the two are living together as husband and wife, and it applies only to doctor, dental or other necessary family expenses.
Good for a laugh • Neither low pay, nor lack of benefits, nor devastating state audits, nor administration-level scandals shall prevent state liquor store employees from having a sense of humor.
While standing in line to pay at the Murray liquor store recently, a young man in front of me handed the clerk his driver license and proudly declared, "I just turned 21 today."
After examining the ID, the clerk responded, "By golly, you did. Congratulations."
He then lowered his voice a bit and said, "Haven't I seen you in here before?"
The kid wasn't amused. But I was.
Technology strikes again • It looks like progress may be threatening the existence of another age-old occupation: car thievery.
The Salt Lake City Police Department's daily log for Feb. 24 noted that a Dodge Dakota pickup was stolen from the West High School parking lot that afternoon.
But, alas, the vehicle was equipped with a GPS tracker and quickly located by the owner. Responding officers were able to stop the vehicle and arrest the two 17-year-old occupants without incident.
What's the world coming to?
Speaking of technology • If you happen to be driving in the northwest area of Salt Lake City near the Utah State Tax Commission offices, and you decide to drop in to get your tax forms, don't bother.
The Tax Commission has no tax forms.
Spokesman Charlie Roberts says the absence of the paper forms is budget driven. He said the state is trying to encourage more online filing. But, he said, if filers truly want a paper form to mail, they can call 801-297-6700 and the commission will mail them one.
Timing is everything • One reader noticed the Tribune story Wednesday about the Utah House passing a bill making it illegal to take photogaphs of or film farm animals. Then he noticed another story the same day about the Iron County Sheriff's Office offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who shot and killed farm cows in Iron County.
His question: If he witnessed such a crime and gathered evidence by filming the shooting, would he get the $1,000 reward before or after being arrested for filming the farm animals being killed?
A question • Wonder if there is any relationship between the bill just passed by the House to make it illegal to film the treatment of animals on the farm and the defeat of a bill several years ago making it illegal to have sex with animals on a farm?