Utah Legislative session 2014: A Game of Monopoly (opinion)


Money, Monopoly, and manipulation in the Utah Legislature (Opinion)

By Derek Jacobs AND Mallory Jesperson

Since Utah’s Legislature only meets for a quick 45-day session, it’s a scramble to play the game of getting your bills passed. Utah’s legislators, much like players in the game of Monopoly, circle the board, but instead of manipulating opponents and buying property, they are circling bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This Game of Bills is enough work to make the average person want to violently chuck a Monopoly board and pout for days.

Animal Control officers testified about the ban on pit bulls.
Animal Control officers testified about the ban on pit bulls.

While in the midst of many discussions about making sure humans are all treated the same, dogs were not going to stand for being discriminated against. In fact, there’s nothing keeping the Scottish Terrier Monopoly piece from protesting the ban on pitbulls. Both the House and Senate passed the bill that will put an end to the ban on Pit bulls in 10 cities in Utah that now ban that breed, after seeing just how much popular support that Scottish Terrier had.

When players land on Marvin Gardens’ property, they have the opportunity to buy land with plants overflowing. Utah is no different. But, a change of the state tree has been long overdue. Utah’s Legislature chose the blue spruce as the state’s symbol in 1933, and Legislators during this year’s session decided to branch out. Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, sponsored SB112 with the help of 4th graders from his hometown in hopes of making the switch to the Quaking Aspen. Utah’s legislators apparently agree that they’re indeed tired of sharing the same state tree with Colorado. All that is left is for the Governor’s stamp of approval.

One motto for the Utah State fair that you will find on the ads is “Utah State Fair Uncommonly Good.” Well, turns out it is now good isn’t profitable enough. So like any Monopoly player that needs money; they cut their losses, mortgage everything and go for help. The state already gives the Fair $300,000 every year; however. now organizers say they need $750,000. The politicians on Capitol Hill quickly said no and instead drafted a bill ensuring that the board in charge of the fair consists of people from a variety of districts.

An example of an unmanned aerial drone Photo Source: Clément Bucco-Lechat of Wikimedia Commons
An example of an unmanned aerial drone
Photo Source: Clément Bucco-Lechat of Wikimedia Commons

Make sure to keep watch of your money and your properties, not that it really matters, because if SB167, a bill that would enact the use of drones in Utah, passes, you won’t be the only one paying attention to make sure you collect your $200 when you pass go. (or that you don’t cheat and miscount the number of spaces when you know you’re going to land on that go to jail square) Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, championed this piece of legislation, and if adorned with a top hat and monocle would bear a striking resemblance to Mr. Monopoly. SB167 would allow for unmanned aerial vehicles, and the data collected by them, to be used by the government in regards to criminal cases, with proper warrants, or for possible emergencies.

Everyone who has played Monopoly knows which of their friends are not above cheating. Whether it is setting the dice on the exact number they need to hit free parking or just stealing money from the bank. The Utah Legislature wants to protect its properties better with H68 sponsored by Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden. Money in Monopoly is sacred enough, but messing with an opponent’s properties is just unheard of. This bill will make it so any destruction or removal of any property, land or geological feature is a misdemeanor, and if the destruction is more than $1,500, it is a third degree felony. Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. This bill went to a worse place than jail, as it died in the rules committee.

No longer will players make short visits to jail once Gov. Herbert signs SB112. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, and was created to increase the severity of charges filed against persons involved in cock fighting. Rolling the dice to get out of jail will no longer cut it! If Utahns are found participating in these fowl fights, Davis said they won’t get a, “little slap on the wrist.” From class 3 misdemeanors to a felony in just 45 days, Sen. Davis definitely got work done!

The Governor spoke to the press multiple times during the session about his position on certain issues
The Governor spoke to the press multiple times during the session about his position on certain issues

Davis said, “we spend millions of dollars in the state of Utah promoting this “Life Elevated,” and then you take a look at this activity and think, how does this elevate life?”

The most coveted pieces of Monopoly real estate are houses and hotels. Hotels translate to big money that is cash money. Every monopoly player knows that and every legislator knows that.  HB356 looks to tap into that cash flow and will greatly aid the construction of a new convention hotel by dishing out big tax credits. With the bill passing, Utah will be able to entice big conventions, such as comic-con, to come to Salt Lake which in turn, they hope, will translate into money for surrounding businesses. Is it a gamble, yes no one may ever land on your property, but that never stops anyone from stacking the odds in their favor.

Literally everything has an age limit. Is it the man trying to put us down? Most likely. Yet at the same time who thinks a 4-year old is ready to play a complex game like Monopoly.  On the box it says “ages 8 years and up,” … and it is a great thing to tell an annoying little sister, then she goes crying to mom. Sigh. The age limit on tobacco is 18 years and up, and Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, wants to crank that age up to 21 with SB12. The bill failed to even get around the board once not even getting out of the Senate. A big reason could be that money talks, and projected revenue losses topped off at $2,665,000.

Police Officers will cracking down on various new driving related offenses  Photo Credit: I, Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons
Police Officers will cracking down on various new driving related offenses
Photo Credit: I, Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons

When choosing the racecar game piece, it’s important to handle it responsibly. The same can be said when buckling up in a vehicle in your everyday life, and Rep. John Knotwell, R-Herriman, has helped to construct a bill that will keep roads and drivers safe. HB137 would lessen the license suspension period for second offenses of alcohol abuse as long as the offender was able to stay alcohol free for one year. So if you recklessly drive your racecar off the game board, you’re not completely out of luck. It just gives a judge the option of giving you back your license as long as you keep off grandpa’s old cough medicine.

You can smoke e-cigarettes on Boardwalk, but don’t even think about blowing smoke at St. Charles Place. Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, championed HB112, which makes sure that e-cigarettes are sold by vendors with the proper licenses and to buyers who are at least 19 years old. E-cigarettes, like normal cigarettes, are only permitted in certain areas. Vendors and users pull the chance card when selling and even using these e-cigarettes, with the notion that these substances are less harmful than regular cigarettes. Players can now rest assured that their precious dollars are in jeopardy because HB112 passed through the Senate, but was unable to pass through the House.

One of the more classic pieces in Monopoly is the bucking bronco with a man holding on tight. Yet the Monopoly game set no longer comes with the horse and rider. The piece is dead and buried. Where did they bury it? HB261 passed this session and will allow the owners of horses to bury them on their own property without paperwork. Up to two horses per acre per year. Burial of people is still much more difficult.

The pieces were probably melted down to make others, so next time you pick up the idiotic iron and before thinking some sexist joke, know that it could be the remains of a horse and what might be a cowboy.

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