Be prepared. While this motto works for Scouts, the law enforces preparedness by requiring classes and education that must take place in order to access various legal remedies and privileges.
House Bill 363, which is awaiting Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature (or veto), would prohibit local school boards from educating our students on the full spectrum of reproductive health, harshly limiting the discussion of sex to abstinence and within marriage. (Note: Herbert vetoed the sex ed bill late Friday night, after this column was written and posted.)
Yet nature, not the law, requires all humans to prepare for dealing with their own sexuality.
I thought a review of the classes the law requires you to take would be illuminating.
Getting divorced and have kids? You have to take two classes (although they can be combined into one) before you can get the judge’s signature on your divorce decree.
Why? Because if you are getting divorced, you need to understand:
• Divorce alternatives;
• Resources for resolving custody and the divorce outside of court;
• Marriage counseling resources;
• A discussion of the pros and cons of divorce;
• The divorce process; and
• Post-divorce resources.
And that is just the orientation class.
Another class is devoted entirely to how to treat your children properly in the divorce, how the divorce impacts the children, the importance of providing for children financially and, finally, understanding that domestic violence is bad for families.
The purpose for these classes comes straight from Section 30-3-11.3 and 11.4 of the Utah Code. The class is to help individuals and families avoid bad things that can happen in divorce.
Section 109 of the Bankruptcy Code is titled “Who May Be a Debtor.” If you are an individual, you can’t even file bankruptcy without taking a class that informs you of all the credit counseling options available and that analyzes your budget.
But the Legislature didn’t stop with one class. Before you can get an order from the bankruptcy court that your debt is discharged or wiped out, Section 111 of the Bankruptcy Code outlines a personal financial management course that you must take.
The two-hour course covers issues like how insurance operates, how to save money, how to clip coupons and other helpful financial advice.
The advice in these courses can be helpful, to the extent that the information helps people avoid further financial hardship and prepare for unexpected financial problems.
If you are a residential landlord in Ogden and want to save 90 percent on your business license fee and be prepared for the responsibilities of being a landlord, then you must take an eight-hour course so you can understand how ”to maximize the use of rental applications, screen tenants through background checks and credit checks, identify criminal activity, observe zoning laws, avoid discrimination, and comply with the Fair Housing Act,” according to the Ogden city website, www.ogdencity.com/en/doing_business/business_licensing/good_landlord.aspx.
Utah Code Section 53 is devoted to the requirements and education necessary to obtain and maintain a driver’s license.
More than 30 years later, I remember the need to hold my hands at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the steering wheel.
I also recall those horrific crash movies, not about what would happen, but what could happen if a driver makes a wrong or unsuitable choice.
What’s in common?
All of these classes have one thing in common: They attempt to prepare people with comprehensive information.
Comprehensive education is not what HB 363 promotes. The bill removes the recommendation to “be prepared” and instead glorifies ignorance.
If the problems of driving, renting, finance and divorce can be addressed by a class, what problems are we causing for our children by legally limiting the ability to educate them fully?
Should we just hand the uninformed 16-year-old a set of car keys and say, “OK, here you go. Just don’t drive”?
E. Kent Winward is an Ogden attorney. He can be reached at 801-392-8200 or email@example.com.