Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
FILE – Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott meets with the Salt Lake County Council in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. The council reviewed an audit of the county recorder’s office.
It’s positive to see local lawmakers reacting to two issues that have caught the community’s attention in recent months.
Salt Lake County’s struggle to help, protect and ultimately remove County Recorder Gary Ott, whose health and mental capacity had deteriorated but whose aides were not forthcoming about his condition, was tragic. It was also rare. But the fact that it was rare doesn’t mean that Utah should abandon the search for a thoughtful solution when a public official loses their mental capacity in office.
Of course, any legislative proposal to make it easier to remove an incapacitated elected official needs to satisfy worries that political operatives won’t use it as a tool to remove elected officials they don’t like. A new bill sponsored by Sen. Dan Thatcher, R-West Valley City, though not without flaws, looks like it could probably avoid being used as a political weapon since it requires broad-based agreement to remove an official.
Meanwhile, in addressing another contentious issue, lawmakers are also considering whether to set forth definite rules defining when a law enforcement officer may or may not require a medical professional to do a blood draw. That bill is the result of a highly publicized arrest of a nurse who declined to draw blood because she said the case did not meet the requirements her hospital and law enforcement had agreed upon.
The sponsor, Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, notes that policies governing blood draws are not consistent statewide. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2016 ruled they must be done under a warrant unless the circumstances are “exigent.”
It makes sense, for the protection of the public, to have a consistent statewide standard, written in law, to govern the handling of such cases.
That need would exist with or without the emotionally charged incident involving a nurse. Its application extends well beyond that case, which, like Ott’s situation, was rare.