Short takes on the news

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Do as I say • Nearly all motorists in America – nine out of 10, according to a new survey — believe talking on cellphones while driving is dangerous and that other people shouldn't do it. But, when asked about their own habits, seven out of 10 of those same drivers admit to doing the same thing themselves. In fact, that 70 percent seems to believe they can get away with other risky driving behaviors, including speeding, driving while drowsy, not wearing seat belts and even texting or sending emails while on the road. All those habits have been identified as dangerous and often fatal, but people continue just the same. While we associate the "it can't happen to me" attitude toward risky behavior to teenagers, it seems adults in this country are nearly as guilty. But, of course, it can happen to anyone. Buckle up, get rested and, for goodness' sake, put the phones away.

Pay and perks • Utah House members did the right thing in passing a bill to make legislators' pay more fair and more transparent to constituents. The bill, sponsored by Republican House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, has been too long coming. It would rightly require each member of the Legislature to provide detailed receipts for hotel and food reimbursements. Current rules allow for a compensation package for Utah's part-time lawmakers of more than $16,000, but two-thirds of that is to pay for meals and lodging during the 45-day session and interim meetings each year. Members who live many miles from Salt Lake City have to use that money to pay for food and hotel rooms, while those who live within driving distance simply keep the cash. HJR6 would require members to submit receipts in order to receive the reimbursement. Under the bill all members would continue to receive the $16,000 annually, and the reimbursements would add to the total.

Climbing aboard the gun bandwagon • The support of Republican legislators for an unnecessary and ebullient letter to President Barack Obama from Utah sheriffs pledging to defend gun rights is not surprising but is still distasteful. The sheriffs' letter seems to anticipate a federal confiscation of guns purchased legally, though that has never been discussed. But, then, grandstanding in the Legislature is a Utah tradition.