More scrutiny for driving privilege

SALT LAKE CITY — Illegal immigrants applying for Utah driving privilege cards may now have to undergo greater scrutiny.

After attempts to do away with the cards failed, Utah lawmakers settled on an amended version of SB138 that requires fingerprints, photographs and criminal background checks. Those found to have felony criminal records would be referred to ICE and those with outstanding warrants to the appropriate jurisdiction.

Applicants previously were asked to provide only a birth certificate, tax identification number and proof of residence in Utah.

The Legislature created the option in 2005 primarily to ensure that non-citizen drivers receive training and obtain auto insurance. About 42,000 undocumented immigrants in Utah have driving privilege cards, according to the driver license division.

Both the House and Senate approved the bill and it now goes to the governor for consideration.

— Dennis Romboy

Bigger tax rebate for movie shoots

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers passed a bill increasing a tax rebate aimed at attracting more movie companies to shoot in Utah.

Republican Sen. Wayne Niederhauser of Sandy, the Senate sponsor of the bill, says the bill will increase a tax rebate for movie productions from 20 to 25 percent.

House Bill 99 passed the Senate unanimously with a vote of 28-0 and now goes to the governor to be signed.

Under current law, the incentives program refunds movie producers up to 20 percent of the money spent in Utah during filming.

Proponents of the bill say it will make Utah more competitive with states like New Mexico, which offers a 25 percent rebate.

The incentives program helped fund the Oscar-nominated "127 Hours" and the upcoming science-fiction movie "John Carter of Mars."

Possible gold standard for state

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah might be one step closer to its own gold standard after the Senate approved a bill Thursday that would require the state to recognize gold and silver coins as legal tender.

"Our hope is to help stabilize the currency within our own state long term," said Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City.

HB317, passing 17-7, makes the exchange of federally issued gold and silver coins an option for businesses and individuals, though it does not mandate it. The bill also requires gold and silver coins to be valued at their current market value.

The Senate approved sending the measure to the Tax Review Commission and Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee to study establishing an alternative currency system backed by silver and gold.

But some lawmakers are skeptical of what the measure, which has passed the House and now moves to Gov. Gary Herbert for his action, implies.

"We had better be careful before we fully embrace this," said Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem. The bill is not a "get-out-of-jail-free card" when it comes to federal regulation, he said.

Gold and silver users would have to file federally required transaction reports, Jenkins said.