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The winners and the losers

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* Winner: Utah's taxpayers may soon be reimbursed for feature films shot in the state's national parks. The House Resources Committee passed a bill allowing the National Park Service to charge fees for moviemaking. The measure would allow establishment of a fee schedule based on factors such as the number of people on site and the duration of shooting. It now goes to the full House, where passage is expected. The Senate already is considering similar legislation.

Most of the fees collected would go toward needed park improvements. High-grossing movies shot in Utah's parks include "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (Arches), "Thelma and Louise" (Arches and Canyonlands), "Romancing the Stone" (Zion) and "Planet of the Apes" (Glen Canyon). It is too late to benefit from those, of course, but other big moneymakers are sure to come.Loser: Those same taxpayers won't hear the latest estimate of costs for the 2002 Winter Games until at least October, even though an overhaul of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's estimated $1 billion budget will be completed a month earlier. Updated numbers will be reviewed by the board of trustee's finance committee and not be made public until seen by the full SLOC board - if then.

Not sharing the refined budget with taxpayers would weaken a SLOC partnership with state and local taxpayers who have fronted $59 million toward building Olympic facilities. It should certainly be open to public scrutiny - the sooner, the better.

* Winner: Utah parents may get a break, if efforts to eliminate non-refundable textbook fees are successful at the next legislative session. The Legislature's Education Interim Committee directed staff Wednesday to draft a bill eliminating textbook fees in secondary schools. Paying for textbooks, which are essential to a basic education, is a burden for many parents who also pay fees for extracurricular activities.

Loser: City officials slated to take office in January 2002 would wait on the sidelines until after the 2002 Winter Games, if Rep. David Ure gets his way. The Kamas representative is proposing that incumbent mayors and city council members remain in office through the Games, regardless of election outcomes. He argues the move would help keep intact agreements and personal contacts with local, national and international Olympic officials instead of "changing horses in midstream."

On the flip side, why should eager new office-holders be kept from entering office on time? A well-established political schedule should not be modified in anticipation of problems that ought not to exist. If cities are scrambling to make arrangements in January 2002, they are in bigger trouble than may be solved by simply keeping around a few incumbents. Those people can certainly hang around city hall for a few extra weeks if they have knowledge and expertise that is invaluable. Here's guessing their staffs would be able to carry on effectively if the torch is passed right on schedule.