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Group Recommends Policy Change to Better Utah

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Preschool programs -- especially ones that promote parent involvement -- can help set the stage for educational success, the Utah Citizens Counsel found.

A group of retired community activists has unveiled their latest blueprint for making Utah a better place to live.

The nonpartisan Utah Citizens Counsel has assumed the role of a council of sages with deep community ties.

“It is our belief that the strength of our Utah society depends upon fundamental fairness and equal opportunity for all of those in our increasingly diverse society and state,” says Aileen Clyde, former 2nd Counselor of the LDS General Relief Society.

Members chose “Human Rights Day” to release a report detailing seven public policy areas that they want leaders to focus on, from education to immigration and poverty. They’re calling for keeping health-care costs down and bolstering preschool. They want leaders to consider the pressure a growing population puts on the environment and end one-party political domination. Their recommendations have been in the works for months, and no one’s expecting lawmakers to embrace them all when they gather for the 2016 General Session next month. Dee Rowland, former state lobbyist for the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese, says there’s a larger purpose here.

“They’re lofty goals,” she says. “All we can do is try. None of these issues is easy. They’re all complex, and our hope is to promote a dialog even if people don’t agree with us.”

The group praised the strides that already have been made by public and private organizations. Those commendations and their recommendations are available in the report, Standing Up for Utah’s Needs.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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