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Vehement HB116 opponent Ron Mortensen is in a fierce rhetorical battle with an equally articulate foe over the LDS Church's involvement in the passage of a bill that provides for guest-worker status to those in the country illegally.

That foe?

Ron Mortensen.

Mortensen is one of the leading voices in Utah's Republican ranks arguing against any kind of guest-worker legislation and pushing GOP delegates to pass resolutions calling for the bill's repeal.

In the frenzy of the debate, Mortensen has said on different occasions that:

• The LDS Church "did not, and does not, directly support HB116" and the church's P.R. department has asked those claiming the church endorsed any of the (immigration) bills to "stop doing so."

• Many LDS lawmakers personally opposed the guest-worker legislation but believed they had to support it because of their allegiance — and deference — to church leaders. Without the presence of Mormon lobbyists, HB116 would have failed.

So the first Ron Mortensen, whose position was stated in a flier distributed at the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, says the church did not support HB116 and its position was being misrepresented for political purposes.

The second Ron Mortensen said the church unabashedly supported it and was the driving force behind its passage.

The first Ron Mortensen said the governor falsely told people he signed the bill because that is what the church wanted. The Governor's Office confirmed to me the governor never said that to anyone. And as far as the church P.R. department wanting people to stop saying the church supported the bills, an editorial in the Deseret News Friday made it abundantly clear the church supports the bills, including HB116.

The second Ron Mortensen, in a treatise written for the Center for Immigration Studies, said, "The church was claiming to be neutral on the bills while at the same time supporting the development and passage of an omnibus immigration bill that included a Utah-specific guest worker/amnesty provision …"

Just call him Sybil.

Lesson learned • Regarding a column item I wrote last week about Rep. Carl Wimmer accepting tickets paid for and reserved by lobbyist Chuck Warren to see the film "Atlas Shrugged," Warren sent me a note saying the confusion over the apparent gift to a legislator was his fault and he now knows better.

Warren told me he reserved several seats and paid with his credit card. People he reserved seats for paid him back, including Wimmer.

The problem, he said, is that they paid him back in cash, so there was no record.

He checked with the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office to see if he did anything wrong, or if he should report the expense on a lobbyist report. He was told that as long has he was paid back, he doesn't have to report it.

Bruised egos • I'm told by my legislative sources that some leaders in the Legislature are steamed that Gov. Gary Herbert is getting all the credit for finding funding to keep open several liquor stores that had been scheduled for the chopping block.

Where is the love for them?

Perhaps Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, put a little salt in the wounds of his Republican colleagues with his statement last week praising the governor for his work in keeping the stores open and noting that he, the Democrat, never favored the idea of closing the stores.