Bob Bernick’s Notebook: Predictions for 2015

Here are my predictions of political happenings in 2015 (not in any order of importance):

— U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, will have the most fun year of his life.

Even as a BYU placekicker Chaffetz missed a few. But as the new chair of the House Oversight Committee he can’t lose – not even one.

He will be able to blast President Barack Obama and his Democratic administration day in and day out.

One would hope that Chaffetz would only investigate serious foul ups in the federal government – there should be plenty of them.

Look, however, for Chaffetz to criticize any and all things that feds do – he’ll be on Fox national news more than just about any other GOP leader.

— Republican Gov. Gary Herbert and the 63-member House GOP caucus will have a knock-down, drag-out fight over Herbert’s Healthy Utah health coverage plan for Utah’s low-income.

Herbert will threaten vetoes.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, will threaten retaliation.

Healthy Utah could cover as many as 97,000 Utahns.

The Legislature’s Health Reform Task Force’s recommendation covers 11,000 to 14,000.

Expect a compromise somewhere in the middle of those numbers, although whether the Obama Administration will accept the compromise could be fought over for most of 2015.

— Former Attorney General John Swallow will reach a plea agreement with Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill, which could involve some jail time for Swallow.

— Former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff will go to trial over his charges and beat them. Shurtleff then moves to take legal revenge against his accusers.

— Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker wins a third, four-year term.

However, the city’s blue, high-tech parking meter kiosks mysterious begin to blow up, injuring nearby bicyclists. Becker calls for a day of mourning.

— Democrats in the Utah House and Senate decide to walk off their chamber floors in a sign of protest over the health care fight.

Unfortunately, there are so few of them no one notices.

— Utah lawmakers decide to junk the state’s per gallon gasoline tax in favor of a straight sales tax on fuel purchases.

The gas sales tax rate is calculated in March to be revenue neutral when it takes effect July 1 – so GOP legislators can technically say they did not raises taxes in 2015.

But come July 1 the price of gasoline has fallen so far that it looks like a tax cut – which the Republicans are glad to take credit for, even if they didn’t really do it.

— House Speaker Greg Hughes pushes through a bill that declares the Pittsburgh Steelers Utah’s official NFL team.

This makes no sense.

But legislators are so bitterly fighting Herbert over Healthy Utah that no one really cares.

— State Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake, buys The Salt Lake Tribune for $1 million. And Trib reporters and editors find out the real meaning of “sacred cows.”

— The “Zion Curtain” is removed from restaurant bars, so patrons can now see liquor bottles and alcoholic drinks being mixed.

There is no immediate impact on LDS diners, who continue to “get high” on Diet Coke caffeine.

— Utah legislators can’t decide if the golden retriever should become Utah’s official dog. They are just too busy fighting like cats and dogs with Herbert over his Healthy Utah plan.

— Conservative groups discover an ancient Egyptian papyrus that, once decoded, shows that Common Core is a communist plot.

But legislators pay little attention, they are too busy fighting Herbert over Healthy Utah.