Huntsman To Sign Bill Protecting Bicyclists

Huntsman To Sign Bill Protecting Bicyclists

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gov. Jon Huntsman was expected to sign a bill Friday that requires drivers to keep three feet away from bicyclists while passing them on Utah roads.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rosalind McGee, D-Salt Lake, was modified in a way that leaves some wriggle room for motorists, however.

The Utah Senate rewrote McGee's bill to make an exception to the 3-foot rule for drivers who keep a "reasonable and safe distance (from) the bicycle."

The words "reasonable" and "safe" were not defined in the legislation, leaving that open to interpretation.

"You have seen what happens as a result of the political process," McGee said Friday, calling attention to a compromise. "The main thing we want to get in the mind of the public is a safe distance for passing a moving bicycle -- and three feet is what has been established."

Lawmakers budgeted $20,000 for a bicycle safety campaign, which McGee said could be matched by federal and local government funds for bigger effect.

Also Friday, Huntsman was expected to sign bills that:

--Lower the 1.5 percent property tax on motor homes to 1.25 percent in 2006 and 1 percent in 2008, according to "blue book" values. That eventually will reduce the state treasury by $1.2 million a year. House Bill 53 was sponsored by Rep. LaWanna Shurtliff, D-Ogden.

--Let Salt Lake's airport police retire after 20 years of service instead of 30 years. The change matches the retirement benefit enjoyed by most other Utah law enforcers. Legislators said the airport has seen a lot of turnover in police ranks because of its inferior retirement plan. Senate Bill 130 was sponsored by Sen. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price.

--Let parents home-school their children, exempting them from mandatory public school attendance. It requires parents to "maintain records of instruction or attendance." Senate bill 59 was sponsored by Sen. Mark B. Madsen, R-Lehi.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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