LDS Church Weighs In on Utah Alcohol Laws
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Utah legislative leaders met with leaders of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss state and
local issues. The routine pre-session luncheon was held right before
Christmas with the church's Special Affairs Committee, made up of
general authorities of the church and church employees. "Before every
general session, leadership of both parties are invited down to meet
with the church's Special Affairs Committee. We've done that for as
long as I've been up here," said House Speaker Marty Stephens.
"The church leaders only brought up two issues themselves: alcohol
and water rights. Some members of (legislative) leadership brought up
some other issues, but since they weren't mine" Stephens said he
doesn't want to discuss those. The church owns some water rights and
leaders are concerned about the retroactive provision in the bill
being considered. They also don't want to see any changes made in the
current liquor laws.
House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, said church leaders
discussed the same things in a separate meeting with Democrats. "It
was nothing new that I saw. They said it's not a time for liquor law
changes. The (liquor) discussion lasted about a minute." More
interesting to Becker was a statement made by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a
former Utah Supreme Court justice who now serves in the church's
Quorum of the Twelve. "He said that there are always rumors going
around (in the Legislature) that the church supports or opposes this
or that issue. He said if the church has a position on a bill, we'll
know about it, because they will talk directly to us publicly. If you
hear another way about a church stand, don't believe it."
Becker also presented his concerns on budget cut backs, education and
how churches may see more needy (church) members if the state has to
cut back on Human Service programs because of falling tax revenues.
LDS officials talk with lawmakers
Deseret News 6Jan02 T4
By Bob Bernick Jr.: Deseret News political editor