Utah State Legislative Coverage

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UPR's reporting on the the Utah State Legislature. 

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The state of Utah could be given more control gun-control policies under a bill limiting legislative power at the county and city levels. Currently, anyone who attempts to buy a firearm at a private gun show in the state must undergo a federal background check, but that could change. Republican Rep. Cory Maloy says the intent is to prevent local governments from enacting regulations that might confuse and potentially endanger gun owners.

A proposal to require labels on some pornography in Utah is one step closer to becoming law. Another panel of lawmakers approved it Tuesday. The Daily Herald in Provo reports that a Republican lawmaker has narrowed his proposal to require the labels only on material declared legally obscene, a relatively small slice of hardcore pornographic material. A trade group for the porn industry has said it nevertheless presents serious concerns because the definition of obscenity is open to interpretation.

The Utah House of Representatives has passed a bill reduce the prosecution and incarceration of young children and instead connect them with counseling. The House passed the legislation Tuesday that would end prosecution of children younger than 12 and direct them into mental health treatment, parental counseling and other services. The measure is intended at keeping the children engaged with their families and lower state costs by reducing the number of incarcerations.

Ongoing Funding For Utah's ROI Program

Feb 26, 2020
Women codiing, Rural Online Initiative training program funding helps Utahns in remote areas gain skills to work from home.

At a time when general fund money is stretched thin, House Representative Val Potter said ongoing funding will be used to continue to grow the Rural Online Initiative program

Increased Cougar sightings in Utah; House BIll 228
skeeze / Pixabay.com

In December, a pair of mountain lions was caught on a doorbell camera in Bountiful. While viral videos and urban sightings can be rare and exciting, House Representative Casey Snider, from District 5, said it can be a regular occurrence in rural parts of the state — like down the road from his house in southern Cache County.

Bill To Decriminalize Polygamy Passes Utah Senate

Feb 26, 2020
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Senate bill 102 would decriminalize the practice of polygamy in Utah. The bill’s sponsor said it will help people who want to leave polygamy, but advocates for those seeking to escape the lifestyle have said it would allow abusers to operate with impunity. 

Bill H.B 58, sponsored by Rep. Susan Pulsipher, pushes to align vaping policies in all Utah schools and provides more resources for educating students. The bill has three parts, including enforcing clear vaping policies and enabling administrators and teachers to confiscate e-cigarettes. 

Lawmakers Address Discipline, Education Needs

Feb 20, 2020
Nearly half of Utah's teachers are quitting within five years of starting their careers. Rep. Dan Johnson said, "We need to keep our great teachers," and said addressing school disciplinary tactics will be critical in the discussion.
Beth Hollliker / Air National Guard

According to Utah State Senator Lyle Hillyard, there is currently a 40% turnover rate for public safety workers and a nurse shortage of about 25,000 positions. 

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers have voted to put new regulations on pornography and remove some on polygamy in separate proposals moving quickly through the Legislature. Senators voted Tuesday to remove the threat of jail time for consenting adult polygamists. Supporters argue the step would allow people in communities that practice plural marriage to report abuses without fear of prosecution. Later, House lawmakers approved a proposal to require warning labels on pornography.

PROVO, Utah (The Daily Herald) — The Utah County clerk's office has announced it expects to use a mobile voting application in elections this year despite concerns raised by cybersecurity researchers. The Daily Herald reported Monday that Voatz utilizes blockchain and facial recognition technology to enable certain residents to vote without having to submit a ballot by mail or in person. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say the application is vulnerable to attacks that could violate election integrity.

Bill Would Create New State Park In Utah

Feb 19, 2020
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A bill recently introduced to the Utah statehouse revealed more details on a new state park proposal in the Moab area. The legislation would appropriate $10 million for the creation of Utahraptor State Park, roughly 15 miles north of Arches National Park.  

Salt Lake City, Utah, Utah Capitol, in winter
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The time for appropriations is coming to a close in the 2020 Legislative Session, and according to district 3’s House Representative Val Potter, the general fund is “challenged.”


The Utah Legislature is considering a proposal to amend Utah’s state constitution to ensure hunting rights in the state.

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A Utah republican lawmaker is urging his colleagues to support legislation that would allow low-income female minors to get a contraception prescription without parental consent.

The Springville Fire & Rescue ambulance #43 in a parade on South Main Street (U.S. Route 89) in Springville, Utah, June 2016, is close to Salt Lake City. But in rural areas, there is a shortage of EMS providers.
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While the bill introduced to censure Sen. Mitt Romney is at the height of public opinion, some Utah lawmakers say the bill is a waste of time. Instead, Representative Dan Johnson saidsafety issues are going to be one of his main focuses of the week, such as House Bill 190 that aims to redefine emergency medical services as an “essential service.”

Novolog, humalog, insulin copayments might be capped in Utah, costing no more than $30 for a 30-day supply.

“Prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford to buy them,” said Mindie Hooley, the Utah Insulin For All chapter leader. For her, the fight for affordable medication is personal. 

Gage Skidmore

Thursday, the Republican Speaker of the Utah House, Brad Wilson, of Kaysville filed a resolution “paying tribute” to Trump on the same day another lawmaker sponsored a censure resolution calling for U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney to be censured for his vote to convict President Donald Trump for abuse of power.

A Glimpse Into 2020 Agricultural Legislation

Feb 6, 2020

Both the House and Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committees are working to create what they believe is smart ag policy this legislative session. One of these measures is a bill to allow water banking in the state.

Tall, orange brick apartment buildings against a blue sky.
Photo by Chris Gerber on Unsplash

A bill that would provide one million dollars in one-time funding and nearly five million dollars in ongoing funds seeks to add 30 beds to the Utah State Mental Hospital. It would also improve supports, including housing assistance, for people after they are released.  



During the 2020 Legislative Session, Utah Senator Lyle Hillyard said he will be pushing for equality in education funding and more resources for students who are at risk.

A Utah lawmaker has unveiled a proposal to require pornography to carry warning labels or be subject to a possible $2,500 penalty, though an adult-entertainment industry group warned the idea would violate the First Amendment. If the bill proposed by Republican Rep. Brady Brammer passes the Legislature, the label about potential effects on minors would have to appear on both print and digital material in Utah. He said Tuesday it wouldn't violate free-speech rights because it wouldn't affect the content itself.

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A resolution encouraging consideration of later high school start times in Utah has earned unanimous support from a state legislative committee. The Salt Lake Tribune reported the nonbinding resolution was presented to the House Health and Human Services Committee by Democratic Rep. Suzanne Harrison. The resolution will proceed to the full House for a vote. Harrison offered research showing the waking and sleeping cycles of teenagers are different from those of children and adults.

Salt Lake City, Utah, with a weather inversion, can bring a host of health concerns, including coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and acute lower respiratory tract infections.
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As lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week, they found copies of The Utah Roadmap, a paper aimed at developing policies — or mileposts — to improve air quality and address changing climate. 

JoLynne Lyon



The Utah Legislature is now in full swing at the State Capitol. Last week, many people with disabilities and their families went there with the mission of learning how to tell lawmakers the ways policies affect their lives. 


National Endowment for the Arts survey reported Utah highest in nation for adults personally creating or performing art.
National Endowment for the Arts

According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Utah is the number one state for art participation and number two for attending live performances. But with the tax modernization reform bill repealed, officials say Utah’s general fund budget — where art funding comes from — is stretched thin. So why should funds go toward the arts and humanities? 

QPR Institute Question Persuade Refer Training, Mental Health, Suicide; Charity Jenson said one of the most common responses at QPR Trainings is 'I had no idea about suicide, I had no idea how prevalent it was or what to do to help someone.'
Kat Webb / UPR

Republican Speaker of the House Brad Wilson named reducing Utah’s suicide rate as one of his top priorities for the year in his opening session remarks earlier this week. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but the eighth in Utah

Utah Governor Gary Herbert presented his 11th State of the State address Wednesday, his final address before retiring as governor.

Utah leaders have repealed a tax reform package that came under widespread criticism. The Deseret News reports that the state Legislature's vote came Tuesday after a report from state elections officials that enough voter signatures had been verified to put a citizens referendum seeking to repeal the tax reform on the November ballot. The tax reform package included reducing income taxes while raising sales taxes on food, gas and some services. But many Utah residents opposed it. The repeal was signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.

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A miniature replica of a statue to honor a groundbreaking state senator has gone on display at the Utah Legislature. The Salt Lake Tribune reports the replica at the state Capitol building is a preview of a statue of Sen. Martha Hughes Cannon, who became the first woman in the nation elected to a state Senate in 1896. The full statue by Utah sculptor Ben Hammond is scheduled to be placed in National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. The August installation will be part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the 19th Amendment, which granted equal voting rights to women.

Utah Law Makers Repeal Tax Reform Bill

Jan 28, 2020
Matilyn Mortensen

The tax reform bill passed last month by the Utah State Legislature was repealed by lawmakers Tuesday morning. In the House, the vote to repeal the bill passed 70-1 and in the Senate the vote was unanimous.