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What ever happened to freedom of speech? PDF Print E-mail

Ken Peay and I submitted the following remarks as an op-ed to the newspaper but they were never published. Luckily for us, the internet is still non-partisan.

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Representation isn’t always easy, but it is a public trust. We are candidates for the state legislature who believe our job is to represent our constituencies and listen to what they have to say. Regrettably, some people on Capitol Hill are trying to limit the public’s access to their representatives.

 

The Capitol Hill Preservation Board, which includes the lieutenant governor, the Senate president, and the speaker of the House and others, is responsible for administering the Capitol building and complex. They decided to ban the public from distributing leaflets to legislators in the halls of the State Capitol while allowing lobbyists to do the same thing. The Deseret News reported that during the recent debate over whether to fund Medicaid benefits for poor people, some advocates of Medicaid funding were distributing leaflets showing people with untreated, bad teeth. We guess the Republican majority didn’t want to look at the potential consequences of their decisions. Instead, they decided to ban the messenger.

 

What does this rule change mean to you? It means if you are wealthy enough to pay a lobbyist to stand in the hallways of the State Capitol you can have information about your cause distributed to legislators. But if you are a common citizen who just wants to give out information to your own legislators while they are shuttling between meetings and legislative sessions, then tough luck for you.

 

Obviously, we strongly oppose this wrong-headed decision. Lobbyists should not be privileged in reaching legislators over the vast majority of constituents. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of Americans to petition their government. It doesn’t say only lobbyists have that right. Members of the general public should not be second-class citizens in their own state capitol.

 

We call on the Preservation Board to reverse itself immediately. If it refuses to do so, we urge the legislature to act to overturn this slap at the people of Utah. If the legislature won’t do that, voters should remember the price of arrogance come November.

 

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Bethanie Newby, a homemaker, is the Democratic candidate for State Senate District 15 in Orem and west Provo, and Ken Peay, a retired Utah Highway Patrol commander, is the Democratic candidate for State House District 64 in southern Utah County.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 September 2006 14:24
 
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