Curbing human trafficking • The Utah Legislature should pass a bill that would help law enforcement and prosecutors combat the sub-human crime of human trafficking. Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring HB163. It would rightly remove the statute of limitations on prosecuting suspects engaged in human trafficking as well as bar a common defense claim that the age of the kidnapped person wasn't known to the suspects at the time of the crime. It also would increase the penalties for felony convictions of using children in prostitution or smuggling children for the purpose of slavery or sexual exploitation. These are changes in keeping with some of the most heinous crimes against vulnerable people, especially children.
Screaming 'Go Utes!' • The Utes are back. That's to say the Ute fans are coming back to support their men's basketball team, after a couple of disappointing seasons that saw attendance at games dwindle. Despite Utah's 12-17 record this season it's 11th in the Pac-12 conference after a win over the Oregon State Beavers Thursday, the program ranks fourth overall in attendance based on tickets sold, behind Arizona, UCLA and Colorado. Utah is recording an average of 9,633 fans per game and is the only school in the league with a losing record that ranks in the top third in attendance. Above-average fan support is a long tradition of loyalty that should continue as the Utes compete in the prestigious Pac-12.
Promoting natural gas • Natural gas: the least bad fossil fuel. Gov. Gary Herbert and Republican legislators tried the other day to appear dutifully worried about Utah's unhealthy air pollution by supporting SB275, a bill to encourage use of natural-gas-powered vehicles. It allows interlocal agreements for local governments to jointly borrow money to buy new natural gas vehicles or convert their current fleets. Loans could also help finance more fueling stations and maintenance facilities and permit Questar to use earnings to create a revolving loan fund for vehicle purchases or conversions. The bill deserves the support of the Legislature, but so did other proposals, most coming from Democrats, that have been summarily defeated. They included allocating money to make mass transit free during the worst inversion months and individual tax credits for buying Utah Transit Authority bus or train passes. GOP lawmakers tend to support only those ideas that help business, in this case natural gas developers. They should consider all ideas.