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Briefly at the Utah Legislature

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 28 2012 5:42 p.m. MST

Attorneys testified that some people attempting to seek legal status have instead ended up in deportation proceedings because of ineffective assistance given by immigration consultants.

— Marjorie Cortez

Bill calls for 90-day 'cooling off period' in divorces

SALT LAKE CITY — Married couples seeking a divorce would have to wait at least three months under a bill the Utah House passed Tuesday.

HB316 establishes a 90-day waiting period between the time divorce papers are filed and a court hearing is held.

Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, said one of the reasons Utah's divorce rate exceeds the national average is because the state does not have a "cooling off period" for couples to reconsider their actions.

Rep. Lynn Hemingway, D-Salt Lake, opposed the bill, saying it feels like government intrusion into private affairs.

HB316 now goes to the Senate.

— Dennis Romboy

President Waddoups: You have mail

SALT LAKE CITY — What's in Senate President Michael Waddoups' email box?

Oodles of email, as one might imagine. Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, told reporters Tuesday that he opens every email he receives. "It helps me determine where we're going to take the debate," he said.

Recently, Waddoups has been inundated with email on legislation regarding sex education in public schools, e-cigarettes, physician supervision of laser technicians, photography of agricultural operations and gun policy. The latter of which was from "good, down-to-Earth patriots," said Waddoups, a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment.

— Marjorie Cortez

Pledge participation would be voluntary under amended SB223

SALT LAKE CITY — Students would have the option to voluntarily participate in the Pledge of Allegiance each school day under amendments to SB223 passed by the Utah Senate Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the Senate gave preliminary approval to the bill, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan. It would have required students K-12 to take part in the pledge.

Tuesday morning, the Senate approved amendments by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, that would require annual instruction about the pledge. It should explain that participation in the pledge is "voluntary and not compulsory."

Students also should be taught that it is acceptable for "someone not to participate in the pledge of allegiance for religious or other reasons" and students should show respect for any student who chooses not to participate, the amendment stated.

— Marjorie Cortez

Factual innocence amendments advance to Senate

SALT LAKE CITY — The legal director of the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center urged state lawmakers to be mindful of the original intent of the state's factual innocence statute as it contemplates changes to the 2008 law.

Jensie Anderson, also a University of Utah College of Law professor, told members of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday that further amendments to the statute could render it "unusable."

"Our hope would you continue to recognize the intent of that statute," said Anderson, during a hearing on HB307.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, would set a standard for a court's determination of factual innocence.

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