Briefly at the Utah Legislature

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 28 2012 5:00 p.m. MST

Under the bill's language, the court must determine by clear and convincing evidence that the petitioner did not commit the offenses of which they were convicted and that determination is based on newly discovered material evidence.

The law is intended to give people who maintain they were wrongfully incarcerated to return to court and prove their innocence. The statute was used recently on behalf of Debra Brown, who was freed from prison last year after spending 17 years behind bars for a 1993 murder in Logan.

The Utah Attorney General's Office has since submitted an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court, seeking a reversal of the 2nd District Court decision.

"It does not address any issues pending in the Cache County case," said Scott Reed, criminal justice division chief for the Utah Attorney General's office. However, other cases are pending, he said.

The committee endorsed the bill, sending to the Senate for further consideration.

— Marjorie Cortez

Would voters favor statewide sale tax increase for arts, museum?

SALT LAKE CITY — Voters this fall may be asked whether they would favor a statewide sales tax increase to enhance heritage, culture, arts and museums.

The House narrowly approved a resolution Tuesday to put the question on the 2012 election ballot. Results of the vote would be nonbinding, meaning it would be akin to a public opinion survey.

"This would give us clear information," said Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, sponsor of HJR13.

Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley, opposed the resolution.

"Everytime I've seen a tax increase this is usually how it starts," he said. "I don't think we need a tax increase."

The tax would be equal to the difference between 0.15 percent and the sales and use tax rate imposed by a city or county.

HJR13 now moves to the Senate.

— Dennis Romboy

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