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Student-backed bill for state pet gets OK from committee

SALT LAKE CITY — A gaggle of fourth graders carrying several whimpering golden retriever puppies crowded into a House committee room on Capitol Hill Wednesday, hoping to see a bill that they helped develop make its way through committee.

SB53, which passed the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee with a 3-1 vote, would make the golden retriever the state "domestic animal."

After doing research as a class, the fourth graders from South Jordan's Daybreak Elementary found that the breed was Utah's most popular pet. Then they approached their state representative with a list of reasons why the golden retriever should take on the prestigious title.

Sadee Austin, 10, was among the group of students showing support for the initiative.

"I think they made a right choice for choosing the golden retriever because they're cute," Sadee said.

Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, said he has enjoyed sponsoring the bill and working with the students.

"These kids are the future of our political environment in the state of Utah. We're showing them that a few individuals can make a difference on an important issue in the state," Osmond said. "While this issue wasn't significant, it wasn't impactful to the future of the state, it showed these youth that they can be involved in the process … and that will have an impact on them for years."

House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, said the Legislature has more weighty matters to consider.

"I hope that we spend our time up here wisely. We have significant issues that need to take a lot of our time and brainpower this session, and I hope we devote our time to that," Dunnigan said.

Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, voiced her support for the bill.

"I know that there's a lot of other lofty things in this world, but you know, we'll take care of those lofty things," Mayne said. "Sometimes we just need to take care of the humanness of us."

Contributing: Dennis Romboy

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com, Twitter: MorganEJacobsen