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Tension High as Legislature Winds Down

Tension High as Legislature Winds Down



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Richard Piatt Reporting

This is a tense day for the Utah Legislature. Decisions are being second-guessed, high-profile bills are getting pushed through, and patience is wearing thin.

Lawmakers know they're never going to make everyone happy. And even now, there are a lot of people applying pressure so that unhappiness doesn't happen to them.

The State Capitol is jammed with more than 550 Latinos who are arrived unhappy, but left with smiles. Last night, this show of force was a symbolic message to members of the House to reject House Bill 109--a measure to prohibit illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses.

Luz Robles, Governor's Hispanic Advisory Council: “With more than 550 Hispanics in the capitol for the first time in history, I think they’ll have to think twice on their voting.”

In the end, the measure was rejected. But there are plenty of other bills that are under similar scrutiny today.

Fire fighters from Logan to Provo are spending their day lobbying---working to protect their pension fund from being used as a budget-balancing tool.

Their law enforcement colleagues chalked up a 'win' with the tentative passage of an asset forfeiture bill that modifies voter passed 'Initiative B' from 2000. This plan allows police agencies to cash in on assets seized in drug busts, but adds additional checkpoints before that happens.

Jon Greiner, Ogden City Police Chief: "Law enforcement wants citizens to feel safe in their homes, that's a constitutional guarantee. But on the other hand, I don't think our citizens want our drug dealers to go scott-free."

Pressure is quietly mounting in the rotunda where people who rely on Medicaid are upset vision and dental benefits have not been restored. The group targets House Speaker Marty Stephens, who insists Medicaid is a priority.

Peter Staniewicz, Medicaid Recipient: “Looking through the articles and stuff they have up here, ours is not a top priority."

And democrats are tweaking the republican majority again, this time with a mock game show to illustrate how their bills get lost in the shuffle. But the outcome of this game has no grand prize.

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