When to Write a Bill and When Not To: Or is the Utah Legislature Going to the Dogs?

When to Write a Bill and When Not To: Or is the Utah Legislature Going to the Dogs?
Buddy the dog, Utah’s next ‘official domestic animal’? (Owned and loved by Natalie Gordon)

This past week Utah State Senator Aaron Osmond made news with the announcement that he would be carrying a bill in the Utah Legislature to designate the golden retriever as Utah’s ‘official state domestic animal’.  The idea for the bill came from a fourth grade elementary school class in his district.

I love experiential learning.  It is essential for Utah students to not just learn about our system of government, but they should also experience it.  But even with that belief, do I support the bill?

No.

I understand the temptation of legislators to do these types of things.  It could be difficult to tell a class of children that you are not running their bill.  But you should.  You should also tell them why:  Legislation drafting costs real money.  Passing legislation takes time away from other priorities.  The process and laws themselves should not be trivialized.  If all 104 legislators ran just one of these bills every session, it would stop the very real work of the legislature.

But that doesn’t mean a legislator shoots the class down completely.

How easy would it be for Sen. Osmond to schedule a day for the class to come up to the Capitol?  The students could play the part of legislators: presenting their bill to one another in a committee room, sitting on the Senate floor having a mock debate, and finally voting for their bill.  This experience may even be richer.

Let’s say ‘no’ to another official Utah designation.  But at the same time, let’s say yes to giving students enriching opportunities that teach them about the importance of legislation and the process.  We can do that, and we should.

In the meantime: Sorry, Buddy, carry on.

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