Policy Papers

Read Article

Flexible Education Spending Accounts: Choice Meets Innovation

Authored by Michael Melendez, Director of Policy

Monopolies in the education system have stifled innovation and limited a parent’s options to customize their child’s learning. Education reforms like charter schools and open enrollment have had moderate success in many states but lack the innovative nature to truly reinvent the system.

Flexible Education Spending Accounts (FSA) offer an opportunity for parents to go beyond choosing where their child is educated to having a say in how their child is educated.

Top-down, one-size-fits-all reforms fail more often than not because they do not address the uniqueness of students with different learning styles, geographic limitations, and upbringings. Instead, public education needs a marketplace for reforms that parents and teachers can turn to.

An FSA goes beyond merely reforming at the top or providing school choice by engaging parents directly in shaping how funding is used in their child’s education.

Read the brief

Read Article

Medical Cannabis: Decriminalizing Sick Utahns

Authored by Connor Boyack, President

Utah is one of the leading states for opiate overdose fatalities in the nation, and legislators struggle to find ways that this epidemic can be abated to save lives.

Yet at the same time, legislators refuse to legalize a plant that shows promise in reducing that overdose rate and providing relief to thousands more Utahns for whom cannabis shows a high potential, whether by alleviating pain, managing symptoms, or even reversing or altogether mitigating an underlying condition.

Throughout the state, sick and suffering individuals secretly consume cannabis for health reasons, yet do so at great personal risk, jeopardizing their employment, risking having police officers serve a no-knock warrant on their home, forfeiting their right to keep and bear arms, and giving the state a reason to potentially take their children away.

Utah’s drug laws must be amended to allow peaceful people to use cannabis for legitimate medicinal purposes.

Read the brief

Read Article

Vehicle Safety Inspections: Another Wasteful Government Program

Authored by Audrey Carlston, Policy Analyst

The cost of vehicle safety inspections to Utah drivers grossly outweighs the intended and perceived bene ts, which themselves are dif cult to discern—to the extent they exist. Of the many studies performed on this issue, there is no conclusive evidence that vehicle safety inspections reduce mechanical-error car accidents.

Such accidents are rare in Utah; only 3.8% of car accidents occur due to a mechanical error. Improved roads, public education efforts and the vehicles themselves have minimized accidents; mandatory inspections do not appear to contribute to this rate being so low.

Utah drivers collectively pay over $25 million annually due to this program—money that should be retained for them to use on actual maintenance as needed by their vehicle. Tax- payer funds currently allocated for the state’s vehicle safety program should be redirected to the Department of Public Safety to patrol Utah’s roads on the lookout for unsafe vehicles.

Read the brief

Read Article

Civil Asset Forfeiture: The Legalization of Theft

Authored by Connor Boyack, President

Utah voters passed Initiative B in 2000 to protect property rights and due process by limiting the government’s authority to take ownership of a person’s property. Ever since then, police and prosecutors have attempted to undermine the expressed will of the voters.

Civil asset forfeiture allows the government to confiscate property from an individual who may not even be charged with a crime. This power has been abused around the nation, including in Utah.

Contrary to claims that this legal tool is used to go after drug kingpins and crime syndicates, 74% of forfeiture cases in Utah involve under $5,000 in assets. This low amount enables the government to easily take the property; a person whose small amount of cash was taken is unlikely to pay an attorney thousands of dollars to recover it.

Critics are correct to point out that civil asset forfeiture is legalized theft. At a minimum, it is a law in dire need of substantive reform.

Read the brief

Read Article
Toolkit Topic

Food Truck Freedom: Removing Barriers for Mobile Businesses

Authored by Connor Boyack, President

Governments regularly struggle to apply antiquated laws to new, innovative businesses. Food truck owners have experienced this firsthand, with cities unaware of how to best classify and regulate their mobile kitchens.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in a patchwork of arbitrary and redundant policies that frustrate truck owners, provide no consumer protection, and in the aggregate result in significant compliance costs that threaten to undermine an upstart business.

Unnecessary regulations should be eliminated—duplicative health and fire permits, prohibitions on operating within a certain distance from restaurants, mandates to change locations frequently, costly bonding, background checks, and more. Even worse, many cities in Utah completely ban food trucks.

Food trucks are highly popular and provide a great community service and economic development opportunity. Barriers placed in their way should be reduced or removed.

Read the brief

Read Article

Ensuring Justice through Juror Discretion

Authored by Josh Daniels, Director of Policy

The pursuit of justice is plagued with many problems—over-criminalization, perverse incentives, faulty forensics, and disproportionate penalties. Fortunately, police and prosecutors enjoy significant discretion throughout the process to weed out cases where justice would not be served.

Despite this discretion, agents of the government still prosecute many cases where the application of the law is clearly unjust and the alleged criminal should not be found guilty. Jurors, as the final step in the system of justice, have this same discretion—but are not told about it. People cannot exercise a power they do not know exists.

Jurors are unable to see that justice is done if they are not aware that they, like the police and prosecutors, can use discretion to determine whether a prosecution should be allowed to move forward. For that reason, jurors should be fully informed and their power of discretion preserved to ensure justice is served.

Read the brief