Several protesters used the first day of the 1989 legislative session to make themselves heard by appearing in the Capitol rotunda armed with signs and plenty to say to anyone willing to listen.
A group of a dozen Davis and Weber county residents, led by the Rev. R.W. Cates, carried signs preaching, "Love not Death," for a dog they said was scheduled to be put to sleep by Davis County authorities.Cates, pastor of the Universal Brothers of Christ Church in Syracuse in Davis County, said the dog, named Zeus, was being held because it had been picked up by animal control authorities three times.
The self-proclaimed Humane Animal Vigil claimed to have gathered several hundred signatures on a petition protesting the impending death of the dog. They said the petition would be given to the Davis County Commission.
He and the others in his group, which included several children, marched around the rotunda and outside the House and Senate chambers before being moved outside to the Capitol steps as their permit required.
Another protester, the Rev. Robert Harris, stretched out on the rotunda's marble floor, surrounded by signs that said, "most politicians are as crooked as the hind leg of a dog."
Like the vigil held earlier in the day, Harris' complaints had nothing to do with the Legislature. But he, too, saw an opportunity to been seen and heard.
Harris, a former member of the Utah House of Representatives in the 1970s, said he was protesting a congressional pay raise that has recently been recommended.
This is not the first time Harris has thrown himself on the floor of the Capitol for a cause, and he said it would not be his last. No doubt, Monday's protests will not be the last of the 1989 session.
Others on Capitol Hill spent the first day of the session lobbying lawmakers. A group from Wendover, Utah, spent Monday talking about a proposed constitutional amendment they hope will keep their community from dying.
The amendment would allow gambling in communities that share a border with a city or town where such activities are legal. It was sponsored by Sen. Bill Barton, R-West Valley City, on behalf of the Wendover residents.
They claimed that the change in the state constitution would not encourage gambling but would allow Utahns in Wendover to share in the financial benefits of the activity, popular with many living along the Wasatch Front.
"We maintain that the Legislature won't create another sinner by legalizing gambling in Wendover, Utah, because they're already coming," said Richard Dixon, owner of the S&D Supermarket.
The difference is that now they are spending the money across the state line, where casinos can afford to offer rooms and food at lower rates than are available in Wendover, Utah, because of the amount of money made from gambling.
Dixon said the argument the group is using to lobby lawmakers is simple: "We want them to tell us why we're not entitled to some of that money." He declined, however, to lay odds on the chances of the amendment's passing.