Wirth Watching: Early days of Utah's laws

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - This week, Utah’s state legislature gathered for the 118th year.

Utah became a state in January 1896 and in February 1896 the legislature got down to business.

They passed lots of important laws for the new state of Utah.  This was a whole new state with new laws.

For example, this was a new state with herds and herds of new sheep.  So early on, they passed a law that you have to dip your sheep at least once a year and our good citizens responded and advertised that they were law abiding sheep folks. Dipping with only the best carsolium dip.

And there were miners everywhere… kind of a gruff and rough crowd. So they passed a law about minors working with miners. No one under the age of 14 could work in a mine, nor could a female.

There were dairy cows all over Utah in 1896 and the consumer friendly legislature didn't want anyone getting skimmed by skimmed milk scams.  So if you skim the cream off of milk and sell it, you had to put the words skimmed milk in gothic letters. That’s the law.  Or you have to face not less than a 10 dollar fine…

They were cranking out consumer laws left and right, such as one about candy. You no longer could put poisonous ingredients in candy… yeah that was a tough law!

Now while they were protecting us from bad food with two laws… there was one I don't get at all.

They repealed meat inspection that was on the books as a law to prevent the exposure for sale of unwholesome or diseased meats in cities having a population of

1000 inhabited or more. Yeah they repealed it… now you could sell all the unwholesome or diseased meat all you want.

Oh, of course they did pass a law to get the legislators paid.  It was $4.00 a day.  Ironically, that was a dollar a day less than they paid the sergeant-at-arms.

But there is bad news. I did discover some fiscal impropriety. Even scandal.  Right there in the budget of 1896.  They sent our state's assessment for the World’s fair of 1896. They put the budget in a tailspin. An overdraft on account of worlds fair warrant… 4 cents… spend spend spend. Might as well been a nickel of reckless spending.

By the way … how does that compare to today? No difference.


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