Bills affecting Utah's retail and banking businesses passed by healthy margins the last day of the 1989 Legislature, after compromises gutted the controversy out of each piece of legislation.
The Utah Truth in Advertising Act, which pitted two of the state's largest grocery store chains against each other and attracted an army of powerful lobbyists, sailed through committee and both houses, passing the Senate on Wednesday 20-5, after considerable negotiation.HB163 was backed primarily by American Stores Co., owners of Alpha Beta supermarkets, to punish retailers that engage in deceptive price comparison advertising. Smith's Food & Drug, noted for its aggressive price-comparison campaigns against competitors, was particularly offended by the proposed legislation and claimed it was a competitive move against Smith's.
It took weeks for both parties to finally agree on a compromise bill, which Smith's executive vice president Tom Welch says, "Won't change a thing," as far as Smith's marketing goes.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, said the legislation will allow any retailer to sue a competitor for deceptive advertising practices.
Meanwhile, Utah bankers took their second shot at liberalizing state laws to allow state-chartered banks to deal in real estate, insurance and securities.
This year's effort fared better than the year before, but it still fell short of expectations. The final version of SB185, backed by the Utah Bankers Association and the state Department of Financial Institutions, contained technical amendments to state banking laws and allows state-chartered banks to expand only into securities.
Bankers were unable to settle differences with Utah's real estate and insurance industries, both of which said the bill would have given banks an unfair competitive advantage over small real estate and insurance agencies.