But the full House amended it Thursday to make any violation a class A misdemeanor. Currently, cockfighting is a class B misdemeanor.
The Senate then refused to go along with that change, the House refused to back away from it, and lawmakers let it die minutes before the Legislature's midnight adjournment.
Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, the bill's sponsor, said in earlier debate that makes Utah is a haven for the fights. "It's a blood sport," Davis said earlier. "It is being made a felony in every state around us."
But Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, managed to amend the bill to prevent Utah from following suit. He complained that felonies should be reserved only for the most serious offenses, and "not victimless crimes against one's own property."
Rep. Keven cq Stratton, R-Orem, wasn't swayed with arguments that most states punish the activity more severely. "We're not a state that follows. We're a state that leads. We need to lead," and not crowd prisons with more felonies for such crimes.
Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, noted that dog fighting in Utah, in contrast, is a felony now. "We don't have a scourge of dog fighting in the state, because it's a felony. We also don't have a prison full of dog fighters, because a felony is a deterrent."