Record editorial: GOP lawmakers prioritize political points over good governance
That was quick.
It’s only a few days into the 2022 legislative session, and Republican state lawmakers have already proven themselves more interested in pandering to their base than governing responsibly. That’s the only conclusion to be drawn after the GOP-controlled Legislature approved a joint resolution this week to terminate Summit County’s mask mandate, along with those in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.
This despite Summit County being in the midst of a coronavirus surge that makes previous spikes look like a blip on the pandemic curve. This despite the situation being just as bleak in the rest of the state, where hospitals are stretched thin and testing capacity so strained that the governor is encouraging Utahns to not even seek a test if they feel sick. This despite masks continuing to be one of the simplest ways for people to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus.
This also despite the lip service Republicans in the Statehouse have repeatedly paid to the concept of local control. When the federal government injects itself into Utah matters, they fume, indignant, telling leaders in Washington in so many words to mind their own business.
But the Legislature (further) stripping county leaders of the ability to respond to the pandemic in a way that best suits their communities? Nothing to see here. Move along.
That hypocrisy — and the absurdity of ending mask mandates when coronavirus transmission is peaking — is enough to infuriate Summit County residents who have seen this kind of song and dance time and again on Capitol Hill.
What should we do about it? For starters, we ought to follow the lead of Park City High School students who walked out of class Thursday morning to protest the resolution. The speakers at the demonstration were inspiring, speaking powerfully and articulating both why the county’s mask mandate should have been left alone and why it’s so frustrating that masks have become so politicized.
But the speakers didn’t just rail against a piece of legislation they oppose. They took it a step further, encouraging their classmates to take actions that might actually make a difference: contacting their elected representatives to voice their displeasure, and registering to vote in November.
The situation is maddening, but the students — and their belief that they can make change through action — offer a glimmer of optimism.
It’s a shame Republicans in the House didn’t listen to the students’ impassioned and well-reasoned pleas before rubber-stamping the legislation Friday.
The opportunity to rile up their base, and stick it to the leaders of left-leaning Summit and Salt Lake counties, was apparently too delicious to pass up.
After all, why should GOP lawmakers let responsible governance, the health of constituents and adhering to their stated principles get in the way of scoring political points?
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As Park City plans for Pride Month, it needs to proceed with caution while considering the celebration. Park City would like to believe bathing the barn at the McPolin Farm in rainbow colors would win universal support, but we expect that would not be the case in a community of people with various political stripes, religions and personal beliefs.