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Bills look to decertifying polygamous police department, fund health-care mandate

Bills look to decertifying polygamous police department, fund health-care mandate

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Bill would force Utah polygamous town to disband police departmentThe polygamous town of Hildale would be forced to close down its police department if half its officers were to lose their certification under a bill initiated in the Utah Legislature. Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said he opened a bill file that would allow a county sheriff's office to take over law enforcement if a majority of a department's officers were decertified. Specifics of the bill are still being worked out.

The proposal comes on the heels of similar legislation aimed at Hildale's polygamous sister community, Colorado City, Ariz. The twin cities are home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training has take action against seven Hildale police officers, including revocations, in the past seven years, said Dwayne Baird, Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Two Hildale police chiefs were decertified in recent years, one for practicing polygamy and one for sending a letter to Jeffs — while he was in hiding several years ago — asking what to do about two girls who went missing. In 2003, all five Hildale police officers were suspended for six weeks for failing to fulfill a 40- hour annual training requirement mandated by Utah state law.

Bramble said the challenge in drafting the bill is to make sure it isn't special legislation and that it doesn't cause unintended problems for other small-town police departments.

Senate passes bill to fund health insurance mandates

State-approved health insurance mandates would not go unfunded under a bill the Utah Senate approved Monday. SB138 requires the state to pay for implementing health insurance mandates passed after Jan. 1, 2012. The bill sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, would cover employers in the state employees' risk pools, public school districts, charter schools and higher education.

Lawmakers are currently considering a dozen health care mandates that, if passed, would be subject to SB138.

Senate committee rejects wine sampling bill

A Senate committee shot down a proposal to allow commercial wine buyers to sample wines at restaurant and resort sites rather than at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control warehouse.

SB119 would permit restaurant or resort owners to taste wines and spirits at their establishments before buying to better pair them with the food on their menus, said bill sponsor Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake. It would not have allowed customers to sample wines.

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, led opposition to the bill, saying it did not include a ban on wine brokers giving gifts, reporting requirements and having DABC personnel on site for the sampling. The Senate Business and Labor Committee voted down the bill 4-3.

Senate advances bill to protect renters

Renters could gain more assurance that apartments and homes are in good shape under legislation a Senate committee approved Monday. SB173, sponsored by Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake, would require the owner to provide a prospective tenant a written inventory of the condition of the unit. It would also call for the owner to provide contact information to the renter including the name, address and telephone number of the landlord or property manager.

The Senate Business and Labor Committee approved the measure 5-2. It now goes to the Senate floor for debate.

New immigration bill carries no ongoing costs

A pilot program for foreign workers who have overstayed their visas carries a price tag of more than $4.4 million. But the sponsor of HB300, Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, said there is no ongoing cost to taxpayers for the pilot program because fees charged to participants will cover its expenses.

The bill would create a pilot program that gives people with expired visas ways to obtain legal status but would require changes in federal law before it could be implemented. An estimated 2,900 people would pay about $770 each to apply for the permits, bringing in $2.2 million annually, according to the fiscal note. Fines amounting to as much as $10,000 would also be assessed in some cases.

The savings from doing away with the guest worker program set to take effect next year include nearly $6 million in start-up costs and $9 million for permitting and background checks that's expected to be recouped from fees. But some $11.5 million in projected income tax revenues would be lost, the fiscal note states.

Legislators vote to rename culture department

A long-simmering controversy over splitting up the Utah Department of Community and Culture continues over a new bill. HB139 would save Utah $1.3 million and further streamline state government, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, told the House Workforce Services committee, which voted 5-1 to pass the measure on to the full House.

The bill would give DCC's Division of Housing and Community Development to the Department of Workforce Services, and re-name the remainder the Department of Heritage and Arts. Opponents told legislators that the proposal would cause a clash of bureaucratic cultures that would endanger the housing division's mission to work with developers to build housing for the poor.

Resolution honors Japanese-American WWII soldiers

A group of World War II veterans of Japanese ancestry and their families were honored on the House floor Monday with a resolution naming Saturday as Congressional Gold Medal Day.

Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, said the resolution, HCR5, recognizes the veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Nisei Military Intelligence Service, including those who served from Utah.

Nisei, the American-born children of Japanese parents, were initially classified as 4C, the designation for enemy aliens unfit for military service because of their nationality or ancestry. Some 13,000 Nisei soldiers did serve in WWII, after being released from the internment camps in Utah and other states where they and their families were incarcerated during the war.

Contributing: Dennis Romboy, Ladd Brubaker, Lisa Riley Roche


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