Lawmakers job to protect us from them and ourselves
The standard refrain from many taxpayers and citizens over the years has been that our state legislature spends a lot of time passing laws that protect us from ourselves.
Last Thursday, I heard a bit of a twist on that saying when I attended the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce meeting. Brad King, from state house district 69, which includes about 70 percent of the citizens in Carbon County, was the guest speaker and he made a statement I hadn't thought about before.
"People at the legislature like to boast about how many bills they introduce in each session," he told the group. "Personally, I don't introduce many bills, because I think that is actually a negative. I think it is more important to keep bills others have introduced that will harm us from being enacted than it is to introduce new legislation."
That made me think pretty hard about our place, as a county, in this state. We are a small rural place compared to the large metropolis on the other side of the mountain. Most of us know full well that the only time the lawmakers over there really think of us is when it comes to having a place to get gas and eat when they are on their way to Moab or when the coal and gas royalties come into play. Their attitudes about this place are really more a result of ignorance and indifference than it is one of "trying to get Carbon County."
The idea that the rest of the state is out to do something to us is a familiar theme for local folks, and I hate to burst their balloon, but those on the other side of the mountain usually do not consider us one way or the other because they are not thinking of us. It's not because they have something against us. King reinforced that notion in remarks he made later in his presentation.
"Often a bill will be introduced and we (meaning he and State Senator Mike Dmitrich, who is also from the area) will say 'Do you realize how that will affect us?'" stated King. "When they realize what it might do to us they generally try to mitigate those negatives. For the most part they don't go after us for any specific reason, they either just forget about how laws will affect rural Utah or don't realize the ways in which it could harm us."
In a sense, Carbon Counties position in the state is a lot like a little brother in a big family. There is limited income in the family, and the parent's time and money has to be divided between the many children that exist there. That means little brothers don't get everything they think they deserve and often seem to get short changed when it comes to consideration on many matters of family and personal business.
However, there are advantages to being a little brother as well, especially one that is as unique as Carbon County is. We do have our own set of problems, but few of them pertain to pollution, urban sprawl and heavy traffic volume on our city streets. We don't have a murder a day taking place, in fact if we get more than a couple a year, that's a lot. While this state is a pretty good place to live overall, our little neck of the woods is better than the average for Utah in many ways.
It's easy for little brothers to get complexes about older siblings and to wish they had more of the perks that growth brings.
But as a little brother in this family of 29 counties, we should always remember that sometimes when you wish for something, you may get exactly what you wanted plus some things you don't.