Ogden lawmaker backs bill to give hope to drug abusers

Feb 4 2013 - 11:36am

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Utah State Legislature
Utah State Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill described as providing "light at the end of the tunnel" for people charged with drug possession or use has cleared the Utah House.

HB 33, allows a person the chance to potentially expunge their record of drug use or possession with the Board of Pardons, under specific conditions. 

Sponsored by Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, the measure cleared the House by a 72-0 vote on Friday and will now advance to the Senate for further consideration

Hutching described the changes as opening the door a little wider for those who have overcome substance abuse. 

"When you get busted there is not light at the end of the tunnel. You can never pay your dues to society," Hutchings said.

Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, spoke on the floor in favor of the measure.

"I think we feel pretty good about this bill. I've had opportunities to see people overcome addictions. I believe in redemption. I think this bill is a move in that direction," Peterson said.

Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo, called the measure a great bill and said she heard from a lot of people who have changed their lives, but still felt the weight of their previous mistake.

"There are individuals who make mistakes and who overcome them. It's very difficult to make that fresh new start, to prove they're different," Lockhart said.

The bill's passage comes just one day after Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, pushed a measure that will allow people convicted of class A and B misdemeanors to also have their records potentially expunged.  Greenwood's measure, HB 69, cleared the House's law enforcement committee and will now be forwarded to the House for further review.

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