This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Utah Legislature convenes Monday, and message bills and head-scratchers are on the roster and awaiting attention. And if last year's session was a prelude, this one ought to be quite a ride.
At the top of my list is Rep. Curt Oda's proposal that anyone with a mind to should be able to kill feral cats.
Now, there are a number of problems with this, not least of which is: What constitutes a feral cat? Ever been to my neighborhood? I've seen cats that would scare the bejabbers out of me if they looked in the window late at night, but pretty much all of them are sweet-tempered and have homes.
The allowable methods to kill a purported feral cat also are suspect. It's not just with a firearm, but an arrow, club or hatchet. Humanely, of course. Try selling that to Snuggums.
Note: I'm aware that Oda has reported being threatened about his bill. Serious threats cannot be tolerated in a civil society, and I'm glad authorities are looking into it.
As for the message bills, Rep. David Clark, the former House speaker, put his name on a call for a constitutional convention. His resolution would add only one amendment allowing a two-thirds majority of state legislatures to repeal any federal law or regulation.
But swing wide the portals, and who knows what will come in? Some Utahns want to repeal the 17th Amendment so state lawmakers can choose our U.S. senators. This would be progress how?
Rep. Carl Wimmer is fronting a concurrent resolution that would urge Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution with a balanced budget provision. After all, Utah has to balance its budget every year, so why not the United States?
Well, with two wars, an $11 trillion deficit and a lingering recession leaving millions still unemployed, how would we do that? (I know, I know, kill the federal health care bill. Done!)
Wimmer, by the way, also wants to let all Utahns over 21 carry concealed, loaded guns nearly everywhere in the state without a permit or background check. See above for shooting feral cats.
One more thing about guns. Wimmer wants a state firearm, to wit: the Browning 1911 45-caliber handgun designed by Utah's own John M. Browning. I know, it's a weapon carried by American servicemen and servicewomen through many wars and decades. But really, a handgun? In these times?
Before you get all exercised, I am not opposed to responsible gun ownership. I own handguns and long guns and enjoy the occasional trip to the shooting range, but that's it. While I respect most hunters, I'm not one of them, although I did enjoy getting frostbitten feet in duck blinds with my dad when I was a kid.
The good news is, there are so many other worthy bills that once the initial posturing is over, the Legislature will be able to get down to the people's business. You'll notice I haven't mentioned any Democratic bills, but I couldn't find any that rose to the Republicans'.
It's going to be another tough year: not enough money for education (maybe there never is). Unemployment is high, social services are hurting and people are going without medical and dental care.
There's another thing: Republican candidates won a lot of elections in November, and the Legislature now leans more GOP than it has in a long time. That makes it a sure bet that when lawmakers sit down in a special session to redraw state and federal political districts, the fur, and I'm not talking feral, will fly.
So, this could be one whopper of a session. I wouldn't want this to get out, but I'm kind of looking forward to it.