"I am deathly afraid the exemption will expire in this session," says Ken Sanders, who has bought and sold rare books in Salt Lake City for 35 years. "It will either force me out of business or to become a lawbreaker."
Sanders says the November murder of Sherry Black, a South Salt Lake book dealer who unknowingly bought $20,000 worth of stolen LDS books from a gang member, may play as motivation to widen the law. Black was the mother-in-law of Utah Jazz owner Greg Miller.
Greiner, who is Ogden's police chief, notes such crimes can provide fodder for lawmakers to take policy action. But he is not aware of any legislator pushing to broaden the pawnshop law.
New House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, has attempted to expand the law's reach as recently as 2007. Her spokesman says she does not plan to run any bills this session.
"I never know what to expect from the Legislature we just keep our ears to the ground," says Catherine Weller, of Sam Weller's Bookstore. She notes the Salt Lake City Main Street staple always has been diligent about identifying sellers and gathering information for police in their buys.
Still, if the law changed, she warns, "it would be very detrimental to our operations."
The pawnshop lobby has long felt picked on, arguing most stolen secondhand merchandise gets sold on the Internet, including eBay. The industry has urged with some effectiveness that all used vendors in Utah be treated equally.
Jodi Hart, a consultant with Utah Collateral Lending Association, which represents pawnshops, says some lawmakers feel strongly that there should be parity. "However, I am not aware of any attempt to do that this year."
Dennis Barker, who publishes the antique-shop trade paper New Century Collector and calls the database "troubling," says he has heard otherwise. He expects a future secondhand-merchandise bill to place "everyone in or everyone out. We think that's their endgame. But the Legislature is not going to let the pawnshops go unregulated."
Sanders says he is raising the issue with some trepidation.
"I don't really have any illusions that I can take on Speaker Lockhart and the entire Legislature and win," he says. "They will crush me like a bug. So I did not do this lightly."
At the same time, "I can't sell enough $3 used paperbacks to pay the inventory of this store." For Sanders, it's a matter of saving his employees' jobs, his livelihood, indeed, an industry.
"Why in God's name am I being treated like a pawnshop or money lender?" he wonders. "That's not my business."