LEHI — The Utah County Republican Central Committee overwhelmingly rejected Saturday a proposal to include the Utah Compact in its party platform during a lively meeting Saturday morning at a local junior high school.
Despite statements of support by Utah House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart and Utah County Chamber of Commerce President Val Hale, committee members voted 95 -179 to reject inclusion of the statement of principles in the party platform.
Instead, committee voters approved a platform amendment intended to be a "compromise" between compact language and the existing platform, which embraces legal immigration, aggressive national border security and opposes taxes being used for to pay for state benefits for "illegal aliens."
Lockhart expressed disappointment that committee members voted against amending the Utah County GOP platform with the compact but said the amendment eventually adopted by the committee was an improvement over existing language.
The platform language adopted by the committee, Lockhart said, "is probably better than what is in place now. In that respect it was probably positive."
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Orem, who signed on as co-sponsor to introduce the compact language for consideration by the Central Committee, said the Republican Party in Utah and nationally must develop a new approach to the issue of immigration.
The Utah Compact is a set of principles that could guide that debate, he said.
The compact, signed Nov. 11, 2010, outlined principles to guide the immigration debate, urging federal solutions and policies that did not separate families. It also addresses the economy, the rule of law and treating immigrants with dignity in a free society.
Some 5,000 people have signed the document online.
Hale told committee members that the Utah Compact had been thoroughly vetted by the business community as well as the state's religious communities "including my own."
Nationally, the compact principles are held out as a "common sensical approach to immigration reform," Bramble said.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, who opposed adding the compact language to county platform, said she regretted that the county party had to address the issue of immigration.
"I highly resent us having to have this discussion. It is a result of failed federal policies," she said.
The Utah GOP Organizing Committee will vote May 4 whether to ratify the language approved Saturday, said David Acheson, chairman of the Utah County Republican Party.
While debate over the platform planks was "spirited," Acheson said, the overall tone of immigration discussion has taken a more civil tone.
"I think the immigration debate has become more nationalized," he said, noting that the Utah County GOP is closely following congressional proposals for comprehensive reform and is one voice in a larger discussion.
"We recognize there needs to be a holistic solution," he said.