Thanks to the 1989 Legislature, Utah hospitals have to tell you exactly what they are billing you for and contractors can't build your house until they prove they have the money to pay for the building materials.

But the bill consumers will look back on with the greatest fondness is the one that got away. Rep. Evan Olsen, R-Logan, wanted to limit interest on credit to 15 percent. Evans was fed up with interest rates that have stayed at 18 percent and 21 percent when the prime interest rate dropped as low as 8 percent. So he drew up a bill to put a 15 percent cap on the interest charged on revolving charge accounts, credit card accounts and bills from dentists, doctors, lawyers and others who sell services."The bankers went wild," Evans said with a reminiscent grin. But it was Evans, himself, who killed the bill. The scope of the problem is larger than the language of the bill, he said. The matter requires a bigger and better bill.

Evans' bill has been sent to committee for a year of study. But don't despair. "Nothing's dead until it's dead," Evans said.

Lawmakers did pass a bill requiring hospitals to send patients itemized statements that let you know exactly what you are being billed for.

But the itemized statement may carry an item listing the cost of preparing and sending the statement. The Utah Hospital Association has made it clear that it will pass the cost of preparing the statement on to the consumer.

The biggest consumer issue of the session, recorded telephone solicitations, got a strong start out of the gate but failed to finish the race. Lawmakers prepared three separate bills limiting - and in one case prohibiting - telephone solicitations. However, companies affected by the bills launched an intensive lobbying effort that ultimately killed all three.

The Legislature did pass a lengthy bill requiring all contractors, plumbers and electricians to be licensed by the state. The procedure guarantees that they have the necessary skills to do the work well, said Sen. Cary Peterson, R-Nephi.

Each time contractors renew their licenses they must prove that they are financially able to pay for the building materials used in the homes they build. The requirement was put into a bill after hundreds of Utahns had liens attached to their newly purchased homes in the past few years by building suppliers who never were paid by contractors.

Fage of consumer legislation

PASSED:

Hospital bills must include itemized statements.

All contractors, plumbers and electricians must be licensed by the state and prove financial viability.

FAILED:

Limit credit card interest to 15 percent.

Restrictions on telephone solicitations.