A plan is circulating under the radar in the Utah State Senate to share the holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., shot to death in 1968, with one of the country's most famous gun makers.
The plan is to rename the holiday, which falls on the third Monday of January, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr./John M. Browning Day, adding the gun manufacturer whose birthday also falls in January.
A bill titled "John M. Browning State Holiday" was submitted at the deadline for filings, Feb. 5, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi.
The bill, SB247, has no text, following a common practice in which legislators file a title, get a bill number and fill in details later. Those are called boxcar bills.
But a draft has been circulating in the Senate that would combine the current King holiday with a celebration of Browning, an Ogden native and one of the most significant pioneers in firearms manufacturing.
Supporters of the idea say Browning's inventions, which included the most sophisticated automatic and semi-automatic weaponry of the early 20th Century, were instrumental in U.S. wars against tyranny and partially responsible for the continued freedom that allowed King to do his work.
The Utah Legislature has a contentious history with the holiday honoring King. After President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation creating the federal holiday, bitter debates resulted in a compromise, calling the holiday "Human Rights Day."
Utah changed the name to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2000, becoming the last state to do so.
The Legislature then resisted calls to delay its annual session so as not to open on the holiday, but finally put the issue on the ballot, where voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to move the session's opening by a week.
How about a companion bill? A popular state holiday is July 24, Pioneer Day, celebrating the Mormon Pioneers' settlement in Utah.
Well, Karl Malone was born July 24 and he did quite a bit to put Utah on the map with his basketball feats for the Utah Jazz.
So how about this change: Pioneer/Karl Malone Day ?
Et tu, Brute? Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch met for breakfast Tuesday with his "kitchen cabinet," about 30 loyalists who have helped in past campaigns and gave a shout-out to the Democratic opponent of his compadre, Sen. Bob Bennett.
Multiple sources at the breakfast said Democratic Senate candidate Sam Granato was invited to the affair because he has been a longtime friend of Hatch.
Hatch, during his remarks, talked of his admiration of Granato and suggested the group might want to help Granato financially.
Hatch has been an adamant public supporter of Bennett's re-election bid, and a spokesperson for Hatch said the senator was just joking. It was just a tongue-in-cheek remark and people were laughing," she said.
Wonder if Bennett is laughing.