The embarrassing public meltdown of Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, over allegedly bigoted remarks may have a silver lining: His bigoted bills are going down in flames. Buttars’ SB 262, a proposal to do away with Salt Lake City’s newly minted domestic partner registry, once seemed sure to pass. Hating gays is still OK in Utah’s statehouse. But when Buttars’ statements made it appear he was prejudiced against blacks as well, legislative leaders began making noises about shelving SB 262. In more good news, Butters himself killed a misguided bill he’d proposed to veil police discipline in secrecy. Add the Senator’s sincere-sounding apology at Calvary Baptist Church, and it looks like there is hope for growth, even at Utah’s Capitol.
A bill proposed by Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, to allow victims of dating violence to obtain protective orders against abusive boyfriends or girlfriends was killed in the House after—get this—lawmakers objected that HB 247 might deprive abusers of the right to carry guns. Speaking against the proposal, Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said they didn’t need laws in Kane County to deal with dating violence: “Usually the father handles it first, then there is a posse that goes out and takes care of the rest of it as we drag them across the sagebrush.” Wouldn’t it be easier for the vigilante mob to chase down the rascal if he wasn’t armed? Or does that take the sport out of it?
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will bail Utah lawmakers out of some of the anti-immigrant lunacy that has gripped the Utah’s Legislature this year. The governor announced plans to veto two proposals—one to strip undocumented immigrants of driver cards, the other to strip their children of affordable college tuition—if the measures made it to his desk. Neither idea appears to have the two-thirds majority needed to overturn a veto. Unfortunately, an even worse bill is moving through the Legislature, the omnibus tough-on-immigration measure SB 81, which would make local police federal immigration agents, drive immigrants from jobs and possibly lock up landlords who unwittingly rent to those without papers. Hopefully, Huntsman has one more veto up his sleeve.