Legislature Wrapping Up Session

Legislature Wrapping Up Session

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Richard Piatt ReportingThe final day of the 2005 Legislature is adding to the list of winners and losers. The latest casualty, a retirement home for war veterans north of Ogden.

The Vets Home was a casualty of gridlock between the House and Senate, the only unresolved budget issue until this afternoon. The bottom line is the House wanted to fund the Vets Home. The Senate wanted to fund and Offender drug rehab program--DORA. Since both were multi-million dollar investments, and there was no middle ground, both programs were pulled off the table.

Now, the vets pushing for the program are more than a little disappointed, they're angry.

Frank Maughn, War Veteran: "When this first became a tussle between the house and the senate, we collectively thought we were five years olds picking up a squirt gun in between two guys with fire hoses, and we're in the middle."

A few items with money attached are also in limbo at this hour. A proposal to allocate 3-million dollars for the CHIP--children's health insurance program is on hold. Another high-profile bill on hold is Senate Bill 77--which would ban smoking in private clubs and bars.

The Senate is also simmering over the agreement to put the 'No Child Left Behind' debate on hold. Governor Huntsman wants a special session April 20th--a delay. But there are strong feelings abut the intrusiveness on the Federal Act on Utah's educators.

Sen. John Valentine, Senate President: "It's possible we will still debate house bill 135 on the floor of the senate today. We have several members who are anxious to debate it, and they want to see it passed."

As of right now, that hasn't happened, and leadership is not encouraging it. The rest of the night is still up for grabs, but they're hoping to be done well before the midnight deadline.

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