Gun control, prison relocation and cockfighting bills advance

By | Posted - Mar 6th, 2013 @ 6:42pm

SALT LAKE CITY — So far this week in the 2013 Utah Legislative Session, two bills addressing gun control move closer to becoming law, the Senate approves the prison relocation, and cockfighting could become a felony.

Gun laws move forward

This week, two bills addressing gun control were passed by lawmakers. One would provide an avenue for people whom the courts have deemed mentally ill to be removed from a federal list that prohibits them from having a gun. The second is a controversial bill intended to stop the enforcement of federal gun laws in Utah.

SB80 outlines a process for people who were once found incompetent to stand trial or were civilly committed to an institution to petition the state court to be removed from National Instant Check System database. It establishes requirements a person must meet before filing the petition, including undergoing a mental health evaluation.

The Senate approved the bill, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, 23-4. It now moves to the House.

HB114 now affirms Utah's authority to regulate guns over any "conflicting" federal actions, and although it states that neither local nor federal authorities can enforce federal gun laws in Utah, there are no longer any penalties for violations.

The bill now affirms Utah's authority to regulate guns over any "conflicting" federal actions, and although it states that neither local nor federal authorities can enforce federal gun laws in Utah, there are no longer any penalties for violations.

It was approved Monday by the House Judiciary Committee after minimal debate.

Prison relocation bill approved by senate

The latest iteration of [SB72,]( "SB72 — Prison Relocation and Development Amendments") which would relocate the Utah State Prison, removed most of the original bill along with several hasty amendments the Senate approved Monday. The Senate passed it 19-7 with no debate. The measure now moves to the house.

Essentially, the measure retains the Prison Relocation and Development Authority lawmakers created more than a year ago to study moving the 62-year-old prison but gives it a little more power.

The cost for moving and building a new prison is estimated at $550 million to $600 million. Jenkins said at least two-thirds of the cost for a would be covered in the savings from a modernized prison and the sale of the current property.

A new facility would save an estimated $20 million annually in operating costs, while the land would bring in as much as $140 million.

'Zion Curtain' bill passes house

A bill that would allow restaurants to tear down the so-called "Zion curtain" intended to shield customers from the preparation of alcoholic drinks passed the House on Tuesday without debate.

Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, said he came up with the idea for [HB228]( "HB228") after seeing the required barrier at a restaurant and learning the 2009 law mandating customers not see drinks being poured or mixed only applied to restaurants licensed after that date.

Wilcox noted the barrier has been the subject of a number of national news stories, the kind of publicity that he said hurts tourism.

Governor supports bill prohibiting smoking in cars with children

Gov. Gary Herbert saidhe sees the need for a bill banning smoking in cars when there are child passengers that has passed the 2013 Legislature.

"I like the concept. I think we ought to do everything we can to protect children," Herbert said. "Those who really don't have a strong voice are children, and sometimes they need a little help from government to make sure we as adults act responsibly."

[HB13]( "HB13 — Protection of Children Riding in Motor Vehicles"), sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, is now awaiting the governor's action. Herbert said he is reviewing the bill "to make sure there aren't any unintended consequences, but protecting children ought to be the first order."

Senate passes bill to make cockfighting a felony

Cockfighting would become a felony in Utah under a bill ([SB52]( "SB52")) that the state Senate passed Tuesday.

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, who Monday cited legalized abortion as his reason for opposing [SB52]( "SB52"), tried unsuccessfully to amend it during floor debate Tuesday.

Utah is the only Western state in which cockfighting is not a felony.

SB52 would make it a third-degree felony to own or train game fowl for fighting, and attending a cockfight would be a class B misdemeanor.

The Senate passed the bill 19-9. It now goes to the House.

Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche and Dennis Romboy

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