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Cockfighting still not a felony in Utah after Legislature fails to compromise

Published: Thursday, March 13 2014 9:50 p.m. MDT

Cockfighting still won't be a felony in Utah after a House vote Thursday night. (Sergey Ponomarev, Associated Press) Cockfighting still won't be a felony in Utah after a House vote Thursday night. (Sergey Ponomarev, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Cockfighting still won't be a felony in Utah after the House and Senate failed to come up with a compromise in the final hour of the legislative session Thursday.

After some debate, the House voted 43-28 to amend SB12, originally intended to make cockfighting a class A misdemeanor on the first offense and a third-degree felony on subsequent offenses.

The amendment made all offenses of intentionally causing "game fowl to fight with or injure another game fowl" a class A misdemeanor, said Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, who proposed the amendment.

Greene said the severity of a felony should be reserved for "the most serious offenses" and that there are other ways to deal with social ills.

Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, the bill's House sponsor, said he wanted to set a deterrent to match the 35 states that have made cockfighting a felony.

"Our hesitancy in taking action yet again will continue to make Utah the cockfighting capital west of the Mississippi," Anderson said.

The House then voted 62-10 to pass the bill. The Senate, however, refused to concur with the amendment. The House then refused to restore the original version.

A committee conference was called, but Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, the bill's sponsor, decided to let the bill die.

Cockfighting in Utah will remain a class B misdemeanor.

— Madeleine Brown

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