The owner of a limousine service says that for now, at least, he is dropping plans to sue the LDS Church for its lobbying that helped kill legislation that would allow liquor consumption by passengers in limousines and tour buses.
Rusty Andersen, owner of Image Limousine Service, said he will instead ask the state to convene a special session of the Legislature to approve the bill that died after officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contacted several senators.However, Andersen says a lawsuit or petitions to place the question on the ballot remain alternatives if lawmakers fail to act.
"We're trying to work this thing out peacefully. We don't want to hurt the church," Andersen said. "We don't want to make the church look bad, but they're doing it to themselves."
Andersen and his attorneys had said earlier that they were preparing a suit against the church or its representatives.
Andersen said he objected to the church's involvement on the last night of the session when it had unregistered lobbyists call members of the Senate to express doubts about the legislation.
The bill had passed the House, 53-20, but was never brought to a vote in the Senate after the last-minute calls.
"If we file a lawsuit, our attorneys feel there is no way that bill will pass," Andersen said.
He said operators fear a backlash over the suit from the part-time Legislature, more than 90 percent of whose members are Mormons.
"We want to get the bill passed. That's the most important thing," Andersen said.
Andersen said attorneys who had been preparing the suit are now asking Gov. Norm Bangerter to call lawmakers into a special session. However, a spokesman for the governor said the office had not received such a request.
"At this point, we have not received anything," said Bangerter spokeswoman Francine Giani. "We know they're interested, but the governor has no plans to call a special session right now."