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The Utah Legislature has passed a bill that would prevent contact-lens makers from setting minimum prices for lenses, arguing the practice artificially inflates costs and hurts consumers.

"This is about your constituents. This is about your consumers, their ability to find the best price they can for a purchase they have to make for the best interest of their health," argued Rep. John Knotwell, R-Herriman.

The bill, backed by the online lens retailer 1-800 Contacts, which had at least 13 of the top lobbyists at the Capitol working on the issue, passed the House 58-18 Tuesday night and heads to the governor for his action.

The move comes in response to a policy adopted by the nation's four biggest contact-lens makers which Knotwell said control 98.5 percent of the market of setting a floor on the sale price for lenses.

While the legislation, SB169, may be challenged in court since it seeks to regulate interstate commerce ­— normally the purview of the federal government — Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, said that "I believe the benefits to Utah consumers outweigh the inconvenience to manufacturers."

— Robert Gehrke