Facebook Twitter

UTAH DELEGATES BATTING .143 IN HAVING THEIR BILLS PASSED

SHARE UTAH DELEGATES BATTING .143 IN HAVING THEIR BILLS PASSED

At the midpoint of the 102nd Congress, Utah's delegation is batting .143 in passing the bills it introduced.

That's not bad considering it still has a year to continue swinging at those bills, and the lion's share of legislation often passes in the last frantic weeks of a Congress.So far, retiring Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, is Utah's heaviest hitter - batting .300 by passing six bills (or major portions of them) out of the 20 he introduced.

At the other end of the spectrum is freshman Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, who essentially has not come to bat yet. He has not introduced a bill, although he said he plans to this year. He is among only 13 of Congress' 530 members who have not introduced a bill yet.

Of course, Orton and other members are involved in many other activities besides pushing bills, including committee work, voting, fighting for local funding and issues and helping constituents solve problems.

Among other Utah members, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is batting .067 (passing two bills of 30); Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, is batting .129 (passing four of 31); and Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, is batting .100 (passing provisions of one of 10).

Following is a look at some of the bills that passed or had major portions enacted; some bills that the delegation still hopes to pass; and some that have virtually no chance soon - but which may be the most fascinating of all.

The hits

The delegation passed 13 of the 91 bills it introduced so far.

Two of them declared commemorations - "National Adoption Week" (passed by Hatch) and "National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week" (pushed by Garn, who once donated a kidney to a daughter).

Other minor bills included correcting a printing mistake in an earlier law (Garn); supporting Salt Lake City's bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics (Garn in the Senate and Owens in the House); accepting an astronaut's memorial (Garn) and praising the Middle East Peace Conference (Owens).

Another Owens resolution called for the administration to back a 99-year ban of mining in the Antarctic to protect its fragile environment. Not only did it pass, but the administration later actually reversed its position and supported the ban.

After he voted against use of force in Iraq, Owens introduced a resolution designed to show unanimous support for Bush despite the earlier split vote on the war. While Owens' bill did not pass, a similar one later introduced by Democratic leaders did.

Key provisions of a bill that Garn - the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee - introduced to reform the Federal Deposit Insurance were included in the final, compromise reform bill that passed.

Garn and Hansen introduced bills to study why the Bonneville Salt Flats are shrinking. Their provisions were added to an Interior Department spending bill.

Key provisions of a Hatch bill were also included in a compromise bill to reauthorize the Civil Rights Commission.

Still swinging

Nine of the delegation's bills (or 12 percent of those that have not become law yet) have passed one house but not both. Another two have made it out of committee. And have been held on at least two others.

Many of those are minor - including Hatch pushing to create "Women's History Month" and "National Home Care Week."

Some are major bills key to Utah's future. For example, a House bill introduced by Owens (and co-sponsored by Hansen and Orton) needed to complete the Central Utah Project has been attached to a controversial Bureau of Reclamation reform bill that passed the House.

Garn has been trying to shake the CUP provisions free of other controversial issues in the Senate and pass them.

Several smaller bills affecting the state have also passed the Senate, including one to allow Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City to lease some unused formerly federal land for possible use as a golf course (Hatch), expanding Fishlake National Forest (Garn) and deeding some land to Kaysville (Garn).

Also, Hansen has pushed a bill to allow federal employees to earn money for outside work unrelated to their jobs. It helped lead to a compromise bill by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., that passed the House but has yet to pass the Senate.

Hansen also introduced a bill to prohibit any money going to downwind cancer victims of atomic testing to be paid to their lawyers. He attached it to a spending bill, but it was stripped out in the Senate. Of note, his last opponent, Democrat Kenley Brunsdale, is an attorney who represents many such clients.

Unhittable

The delegation has introduced several bills that likely will not pass any time soon but may be among the most interesting issues they are addressing.

Owens has introduced a bill to create 5.4 million acres of wilderness in Utah on Bureau of Land Management land. Hansen introduced a competing bill to create only 1.4 million instead. Most see little chance of narrowing of passing a compromise this year.

Owens has introduced a partial compromise bill calling for a study about creating a national park in the Escalante canyons area - which would attract more tourists than a mere wilderness area.

Among some other interesting Owens bills are one to make former U.S. presidents non-voting members of the House; one to make House terms four years instead of two; one to allow corporations to become sponsors of the National Park Service; one to ban smoking on military flights; and one to create a Middle East Investment Bank for Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Some interesting Hansen bills include making harassment of grazers a federal offense, one to allow states to veto creation of federal wilderness areas and one forcing the Interior Department to give full consideration to loss of human jobs when deciding whether to declare a species as endangered and protect its environment.

*****

(Chart)

Utah Congressmen

Batting Average

Jake Garn .300

Wayne Owens .129

Jim Hansen .100

Orrin Hatch .067