Catalysts

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Catalysts

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

We are in the thick of the Utah Legis­lative session. A lot has already happened, yet there is much work to be done still. Two of this month’s catalysts deal with local legislation, while two deal with national issues that affect everyone.

Pro Tip: When corresponding with your elected representatives, keep in mind that courtesy and respect go a long way. Remember, especially when you are representing a counter point of view: Make sure your communications are a positive representation of the cause you are writing about. Nobody has ever changed their mind after receiving a rude, condescending or threatening message. Posi­tivity always wins.

Congress has a well-earned reputation for crafting massive bills that are inflated with off-topic provisions, as a way to sneak special interest initiatives in under the radar.

Congresswoman Mia Love (UT) has introduced the “One Subject At A Time Act,” H.R. 4335. The goals of this bill are to make sure bills are limited to one subject at a time and ensure that bills are clearly labeled. This forces higher account­ability upon those who would have otherwise tried to sneak provisions into unrelated bills and makes the lawmaking process easier for citizens to understand.

What to do about it:

Contact your congressperson and let her know that increased transparency and simplicity in government is important to you. Ask her to support HR 4335. Go to VoteSmart.org to find the contact info for your representative.

In the course of investigating the San Bernadino shooting, the FBI has ordered Apple Inc. to devise a method to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters. They hope to examine the contents of the phone and gain more insight into the attack.

If Apple Inc. gives in to the FBI’s de­mands it will set a dangerous precedent legally, compromising safeguards to your privacy regarding technology. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, made a public statement recently to let the public know this was happening and that Apple refuses to comply. Cook said that complying with the FBI’s demand would open the door for countless millions of iPhones being compromised illegally—by the government and nefarious hackers. Facebook and Google CEOS stand with Cook. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates equivocates.

Congressman Ted Lieu of California has crafted a bill, H.R. 4528, the Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications (ENCRYPT) Act of 2016. This bill specifically prohibits government agencies from mandating that phone makers build “back doors” into their devices. Strong encryption is the backbone of our digital society, and should be covered by the 4th amendment. Any compromises will have detrimental effects.

What to do about it:

Contact your representative in Con­gress to say it’s important to you that H.R. 4528 is supported. Use VoteSmart.org to find your representative’s contact info.

Consider boycotting Microsoft products, including phones, software, and any new computer that runs Windows. Apple is obviously a great alternative. If you aren’t going the Apple route, but don’t want to support Microsoft either, consider the LINUX operating system, which can be installed on your Windows compatible hardware, and will give you a secure, efficient computer.

The “Telsa Bill” lives! We weren’t sure if this one was going to see the light of day again. An arcane law on Utah’s books prevents auto manufacturers from selling directly to their customers. This affects not only national companies like Tesla Motors, it also affects two local carmakers.

House Bill 384 is Rep. Coleman’s second attempt at abolishing government protectionism for auto dealerships. This bill seeks to create a legal pathway for carmakers such as Tesla to open their doors in Utah.

What to do about it:

Write your representatives in the House and Senate, ask them to give their support to H.B. 384. Opening the doors for innovative car sales is just one step toward a cleaner Utah. This is time sensitive—if this issue matters to you, act on it today, as the Legislative session ends on 10 March.

Starting a home-based business is hard work. Every extra fee and license just adds to the burden. Rep. Jake Anderegg has proposed a bill that would make most home-based businesses exempt from needing a business license.

House Bill 132 changes the authority of cities to require business licenses and fees for the purpose of raising revenue. It would create an exemption for home-based businesses. The bill also contains provisions for nonprofit organizations, relieving them of the burden of many fees and licenses they currently pay.

What to do about it:

As usual—emails and phone calls! Get in touch with your representative and senator (see VoteSmart.org). Every email and phone call matters. Let them know you’re a constituent; they prioritize communication from their own constituents. This is time sensitive—if this issue matters to you, act on it today, as the Legislative session ends on 10 March. u

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. www.PaulDuane.net

 
 
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