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Seat-belt bill progresses

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A bill that would require every occupant of a vehicle to wear a seat belt was passed by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee on Tuesday.

As the law is now, all occupants of a vehicle must wear seat belts unless there are more occupants than there are seat belts.

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, is sponsoring HB92, which would take out the exception in current law.

Five members of the committee voted against the bill, saying that it would punish large families who may not have enough seat belts for all of their children.

"I think we've gone a long way in the right direction, but I think we can go too far," said Rep. Loraine Pace, R-Logan. "What if there are more children than there are seat belts?"

Moss originally had an amendment to the bill making a provision for large families. But law enforcement representatives told her they could not support the bill with that provision.

"(They told me) it would be an impossibility to determine who was family and who wasn't," Moss said.

Moss said she thinks most large families make accommodations for all of their children and that this requirement is a goal families can work toward.

Rep. Jack Seitz, R-Vernal, voted against the bill, saying he has neighbors who would be affected personally by the bill.

"They would have to make the decision which kid they leave home," he said.

But Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said he would "rather choose which child I leave home than choose which child I'm going to bury."

Moss said most people don't realize that the current exemption even exists and that the bill is "intended to bring the existing law into compliance with the expectations of Utah's citizens."


E-mail: lculler@desnews.com