The Special Session Was an Unnecessary Waste of Time

How long does it take legislators to figure out the complex issues surrounding the recent school district splits? More than one week of preparation and one day of actual special session apparently. About the only results produced from dragging legislators together for a day was a bunch of meetings, tabling the real grunt work until the next regular session and cutting the county out of the decision-making process entirely. Oh, and we witnessed Henry's Law, the so-called "puppy torture" bill, go down in flames yet again because of the huge amount of work to be done in such a short time. With so little accomplished and so many people upset, I have to wonder what the legislature was hoping to accomplish.

First off, it was simply foolhardy to think that there would be a solution by the end of Wednesday's session. All that was accomplished is that the east side cities got to fast-track their ill-conceived split proposals without waiting for necessary clarification. There's no way that the split is so urgent that it can't wait a year for more study and this should be a big warning flag to all of us. I give a special raspberry to the Salt Lake County Council for setting out of the way of this political hot potato to let the Legislature decide it. Hey guys? Aren't you the same ones that got in a huff when the Legislature re-routed the soccer stadium funds? I guess they only like local control when it's convenient.

That brings me to my second point. By their actions, the County Council has cut themselves out of the split issue for good unless the Legislature changes the law again. This is a disastrous policy. The role of the county in all of this is to protect the west-side residents that won't be able to vote on the issue. Now that cities like Sandy can go tilting at windmills without a thought as to how the other side of I-15 will be affected, you're effectively giving cities the power to secede from a school district with minimal warning and minimal data collection. I'm hoping that the decent folks on my side of town will see through the sham and vote it down soundly.

And my final point has to do with Henry's Law. It's a good bill. There's a very strong correlation between animal abuse and violent crime against fellow humans, so it makes sense to further criminalize the former in hopes of mitigating the latter. Still, this bill has been a loser in our legislature. Emotions ran very high the last time it was shot down and history repeated itself this time. It's easy to keep on blaming legislators (after all, they're the ones that keep on voting against it), but there's plenty of blame to go around. First, the County Council caused this special session by refusing to do their stinkin' jobs. Second, the Governor deserves blame for trying to wedge this one into a session that was too short to deal with the main issue at hand, much less a second bill. Third, the impetuous east-side cities that can't hold their horses are to blame for pushing this school district split business when it needs more time to be evaluated. All this swirled together gave us the false hope that this law would come to pass despite the crammed schedule.

This is not what the special session is intended for. It's intended for true pressing emergencies. A massive shortfall in the state budget would be one of those things. So would time-critical unfinished business from the last session. It's not for giving cities the political expediency they crave. I'm hoping at least a few legislators recognize the day as the waste that it was.

UPDATE: The Deseret Morning News agrees with me.

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6 Responses

  1. Jeremy says:

    I agree with you and the D-news. What a waste.

  2. Bill Fox says:

    I am sure glad there was no kind of a law like animal crulety laws when I was a kid. I don’t think they’d go for firecrackers strapped to frogs or toads with electrical tape or the dipping of a cats tail in gasolene, lighting it, and then watching them run. I personally feel that the only punishment needed for animal cruelty will be dealt out by our creator. Over the years, even though I am an avid hunter, I’ve come to respect all life. I see no corrilation between being cruel to animals and respect for human life. That is not to say that certain individuals don’t respect either. I’ll give you an example—- fishing. Why does the fish fight so hard to get away? I hope I don’t have to really answer that question. I do know that fishermen enjoy the fight and that is why they keep coming back. (yes I’m a fisherman also) Fishing has to be as cruel towards the fish as any possible cruelty you could ever perpetuate on an animal. Are we going to make all fisherman start buying exploding hooks so that the fish will die faster and won’t feel as much pain. I say that the legislature needs to keep their nose on their face on this one. The Lord will certainly sort things out

  3. Reach Upward says:

    I agree that the special session was a waste of time. I disagree that making animal cruelty a mandatory felony is a good idea. It would make kicking the dog a more serious crime than kicking your disabled grandma or a defenseless toddler. Animal abuse is despicable and should be punished — appropriately.

    Animal life is not morally on par with human life. I’m sorry, but it just isn’t. This bill not only strives to make it on par, but to raise it to a level superior to human life (at least in this respect). It is part of an agenda that strives to rearrange societal values. It aims over time to make meat consumption illegal. You can say that this is over the top, but at least some bill proponents have been quite open about this. Henry’s Bill (not law) is not good legislation.

  4. Jesse says:

    Bill: The correlation is there. The American Psychological Association in the DSM-IV notes that a previous history of animal abuse is a diagnostic criterion for psychiatric and emotional disorders. According to the New York Times, the FBI reports that a very high number (some sources show > 70%) of serial rapists and murderers have a history of animal violence that predated their violence against other people. It’s not causation by any means, but the link is too strong to ignore. (The bill, FYI, provided explicit exemptions for hunting, fishing, farm animals, etc.)

    Reach: That’s a bit of a stretch. The bill keeps everything but torture as a misdemeanor and doesn’t appear to me to start making animals on par with us. A reading of the bill just doesn’t seem to pan out the way you claim.

  5. Bill Fox says:

    Jesse I would say that the social disorders are a causation of mis treating animals and not the mis treating of animals creating the social disorder. I am surprized the 70% is not higher. I say lets lock up all of those with serious social disorders and a lot of animals will go un tortured. Then we don’t need a bill. At this point the government has no method to think rationaly ie kids being suspended from school because they brought a plastic knife to school in their lunch box to spread their jelly, so the sandwich wouldn’t be soggy. Even if today we have leaders with common sense about the law. The fact is that someday we won’t

  6. Kipluck says:

    Honestly, the fact that with that special session they ended up doing NOTHING with Henry’s Law made me cry. I wrote a letter before… just a reminder how little that matters.

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