Legislation that would have made cockfighting a felony in Utah died in the House Thursday morning, after animated discussion that included worries about increasing the population of the yet-to-be-approved new state prison.
Alternating between the terms cockfighting and Game Fowl Fighting, Republican Representative Johnny Anderson of Taylorsville urged the House to pass the bill, saying that it invited illicit activities to the state and that it was cruel to the animals involved.
“Under Utah law it’s still treated as a misdemeanor," said Anderson. "South Dakota’s the closest state to Utah that does not have cockfighting as a felony. Idaho made game fowl fighting a felony last year. The worry is that if we don’t do the same Utah will become a magnet for these cruel events. With it being a misdemeanor, the worry is that the winning that are collected at this event far outweigh the penalties that are applied. ”
Republican Representative Daniel McCay said that while the activity was “ridiculous” it was unnecessary and might increase the number of people in prison in the state.
“The idea that Utah will become a magnet for cock fighting does not make any sense," McCay said. " I will just ask the body as they consider this vote, to consider those who they will be putting in prison, and the fact that we are trying to build a new prison so I guess we can house these cock fighters. I would just ask that you have that weigh on your conscience as you vote on this bill today.”
Senate Bill 52 was sponsored by Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Gene Davis, who has said that he was concerned that Utah was an island by itself on this issue. The measure failed in the house today on a vote of 28 to 39.