The Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly held a dog-and-pony show at the state Capitol last week to show Latinos how much the GOP cares about them and deserves their votes.
The event was designed to showcase Republicans' love one day before the previously scheduled Diversity Day, sponsored by the Utah Office of Multicultural Affairs, a bipartisan event designed to showcase the state's ethnic communities rather than make it a partisan event.
While Diversity Day featured Gov. Gary Herbert and House Speaker Becky Lockhart, it also included State Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Josie Valdez and Democratic Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, as well as performances by an African cultural group. Invited guests included 700 elementary and junior high school students, Latino business leaders and community advocates.
The Republican celebration featured Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, Lockhart, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright. While that celebration touted the Republicans' support for Latinos, here's how the GOP-dominated Legislature treated them:
Lawmakers defeated a bill to fund early preschool for at-risk children, heavily represented by Latinos and other minority groups, through private donations. The Legislature sent a loud message opposing Medicaid expansion, which is significant for the ethnic group the Republicans were wooing Wednesday since Utah has the second-highest percentage of uninsured Latinos in the nation. The Republican majority also killed a community health bill, sponsored by Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, that was designed to close the health care disparity gap.
Double standard • The Legislature passed a procurement bill that is 167 pages of bidding requirements and all sorts of hoops prospective contractors must go through to compete for state contracts.
That would be the same Legislature that approved a $300,000 payment to insider fish and game lobbyist Don Peay to spend however he sees fit to combat the introduction of imaginary wolves into Utah.
Double standard II • The Legislature has pounded its collective chest against taking federal money to expand Medicaid to low-income people. But when sequestration led to the cancellation of the annual $100,000 Hill Air Force Base air show, lawmakers approved a $100,000 appropriation so the show could go on.
Quote of the week • The Utah House on Thursday voted down a bill that would elevate the crime of cockfighting from a misdemeanor to a felony, bringing Utah in line with surrounding states.
During the debate on the floor, Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, said he would oppose the bill because of the effect it would have on gun ownership. "As a convicted felon, you're forever barred from owning guns," he said.