Owners of limousine services, still stinging from a last-minute defeat by lawmakers, want a special legislative session to pass a law allowing their patrons to drink alcohol.
But, although he supports the proposed law, Gov. Norm Bangerter said Friday he is not inclined to bring the matter up, even if he decides later to call a special session to consider other issues."If the votes haven't changed, I don't see any reason," he said.
His chief of staff, Bud Scruggs, said limousine drivers have yet to formally ask for a special session, although he knows that is their intention.
"Half the people who didn't get their bills passed want a special session," he said.
Carl J. Nemelka, an attorney representing Rusty Anderson, owner of Image Limousine Rental, said he has urged his client to ask the governor for a special session.
"The law is in a state of shambles as it relates to the consumption of alcohol in vehicles," Nemelka said.
He said a special session might reduce the losses to limousine and charter bus owners whose businesses have reportedly suffered because of publicity surrounding the bill's failure.
The bill, which would have allowed consumption of liquor by passengers in limousines and charter tour buses, passed the House of Representatives and was being considered in the Senate until the last day of the general session last month. Senators tabled the bill indefinitely after officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called a number of senators to urge them to take a closer look at the bill.
Meanwhile, Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom has released an opinion stating that church officials apparently did not violate any laws when they called senators about the bill. The opinion, written by Deputy Attorney Gavin Anderson, came two weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement in support of the church's right to express concerns about legislation.
Gavin Anderson wrote the opinion after Nemelka sent a letter asking whether the church's actions violated a section of Utah's constitution prohibiting a union of church and state. Anderson said he found no law prohibiting a church from trying to influence legislation.
Rusty Anderson said his business has suffered because the Legislature did not pass the bill.
"We're not getting the five and six hour runs anymore," he said.
He and other limousine and charter bus owners claim the proposed law will reduce the number of drunken drivers. Opponents note people still will have to drive home from the bus or limo service, even if they are drunk.