Catalysts, Regulars and Shorts


By Staff

Current issues with simple actions that can make a difference.
by Paul Duane

The 2016 Legislative session began Monday, January 25. In this month’s edition of “Catalysts,“ I’ve selected a few issues that center around respecting the rights of the individual to use their body and property without unnecessary government hassles. Your calls and emails to your elected officials really do make a difference. Tip: Use to find out who your representative and senator are. When you email or call, immediately identify yourself as a constituent. Your email / phone call will be given attention if you do this.

Rep. Brian Greene is sponsoring a bill, HB 22, that aims to clean up the very murky and corruptible laws in Utah concerning “Civil Asset Forfeiture.”

“Civil Asset Forfeiture” means that law enforcement can seize items of your personal property if you are suspected of a crime. Currently, law enforcement agencies use the proceeds from Civil Asset Forfeiture to fund their departments, creating huge incentives to abuse it. Rep. Greene’s bill would make it so that police departments can no longer profit from these seizures.

What to do about it:

Call or email your local representative and let them know you want to see SB 22 passed.

Speaking of cars, cops, and seizing property: As of right now, Utah law states that if a driver is pulled over and does not have current insurance on the vehicle, the police officer is to impound the car.

Rep. Fred Cox has sponsored House Bill 80, which removes the requirement for police to automatically impound uninsured vehicles. HB 80 would grant officers the ability to evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis. One of our constitutional rights is protection from unreasonable seizure of our personal property. HB 80 helps to strengthen that protection.

What to do about it:

Call or email your representative and let them know it’s important to you that they support House Bill 80, “Limiting Unecessary Vehicle Impound.”

One of Utah’s peculiar liquor laws is the “Zion Curtain.” This law states that in restaurants serving alcohol, drinks must be mixed behind an opaque barrier. The law suggests it is harmful to children to witness drinks being mixed and prepared.

House Bill 76 would modify this law, giving restaurants the option of posting a notice in plain sight (most likely near the entrance) stating that alcoholic drinks may be prepared in plain sight. This would remove an uneccessary intrusion of government into how businesses operate, and still protects a parent’s right to choose where they dine with their kids.

What to do about it:

Again, give your state representatives a call or email and let them know you want the Zion Curtain removed. Tell them to support HB 76.

Currently the legal age to purchase tobacco is 19. Rep. Kraig Powell is introducing a bill, HB 157, that would raise the legal age for tobacco purchase and use, to 21.

If a person is old enough to go to war and die for one’s country, that person should also be able to make decisions about what substances to injest. Raising the legal age for tobacco to 21 is an unnecessary intrusion of government into the personal lives of adults.

What to do about it:

Call or email your representatives and ask them to vote against HB 157. On the other hand, you might also advocate for raising the age of recruitment to age 21.

Paul Duane is a comedian, photographer, social activist and host of the nationally syndicated Paul Duane Show (“Putting the party back in politics”). He lives in Salt Lake City.

This article was originally published on February 1, 2016.