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Are Moral Message Bills Hurting Utah's Image?

Are Moral Message Bills Hurting Utah's Image?

Posted - Feb. 11, 2004 at 9:43 p.m.



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Richard Piatt reporting The Utah Legislature is trying to take a stand on marriage and other message bills. But are those issues costing the state more than time?

Richard Piatt found a possible economic impact.

Utah lawmakers are getting pretty good at moving bills that take a moral stand. But, is it a waste of time? And, does it affect Utah's image?

Senator Ron Allen says: Yes, Utah's image is in trouble.

Sen. Ron Allen/ (D) Stansbury Park: "Now what we're hearing is the political environment in Utah, and particularly the grandstanding of the right, is causing people to rethink whether or not they want to work and live here."

Allen claims both a high-tech company and a manufacturing company both said no to doing business in Utah, recently.

Allen won't name them, but says last week's abortion debate played into one company's decision.

Abortion; the marriage definition bill; an anti-United Nations resolution are getting national, sometimes negative attention--a frustration to leadership.

Rep. Marty Stephens/ House Speaker: "We feel like these are important public policy things that need to be debated."

At Wednesday's briefing, House and Senate leaders defended this Legislature.

If moral issues are election-year grandstanding for Republicans, then hate crimes and anti-gun bills do the same for Democrats, they say, especially when many morals issues are left over from last year.

Rep. Greg Curtis/ House Majority Leader: "They were here last year in a non election year. And so you need to look at facts rather than the posturing of those who are opposed to the bills."

But time is also a factor: Including hours spent on 63 non-binding resolutions costing up to 10-thousand dollars each.

Linda Hilton/ Coalition of Religious Communities: "We are spending hours and hours on things that are not going to make any difference to taxpayers of Utah."

Sen. Ed Mayne/ (D) West Valley City: "To me we have wasted three weeks of time up here."

The battles on Capitol Hill are noticed by people who want to visit the state, according to SKI Utah's Kip Pitou.

He says polygamy and the alcohol laws already work agianst Utah.

Sen. Al Mansell/ Senate President: "We do not want Utah to stand out from the standpoint of being a strange state. On the other hand, we do want Utah to stand out as a state that defends moral issues."

Sen. Ron Allen/(D) Stansbury Park: "The bottom line is it hasn't changed anything except reinforce the perception that Utah is a political backwater."

According to a recent Survey USA poll of 500 Utahns, people want the Legislature to look at some moral issues.

68 percent say it's a good use of some of the time during the session.

The question of when some of the time becomes too much depends on who you're talking to and what the issue is.

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