Politics

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), with support from Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), re-introduced a bill that failed last year called the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming, or OFF Act. The OFF Act is intended to reduce conflicts of interest in the agricultural industry in checkoff programs.

Utah Legislature

Abortion rights groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of a new Utah law banning most abortions after 18 weeks of gestation, following through on a vow made when lawmakers considered the measure during this year's legislative session.

The law violates the U.S. Supreme Court's longtime stance that states cannot ban abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at about 23 weeks, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah argued. The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah is assisting with the lawsuit filed in federal court.

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Utah lawmakers are winding down their annual session after reaching a deal to allow more alcohol in beer, passing a ban on most abortions after 18 weeks and scaling back a voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

Other failed to pass, including a ban on LGBT conversion therapy. The legislative session ends Thursday.

Lawmakers also decided to postpone action on sweeping tax reform, although they wrote fail-safes into the state's $19 billion budget to ensure that action happens later this year.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he'll sign the hate crimes bill passed by the legislature.  Herbert tweeted Tuesday night that he looked forward to signing SB103 into law, which he said will serve as a powerful tool in providing critical protections to Utah residents. 

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Provo Republican Rep. Norm Thurston’s House Bill 267 would have prompted an application from Utah to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

A bill that calls for Utah's required, semester-long high school financial and economic literacy course to include units on socialism and communism has won final passage in the state Senate.

 

 

Layton Republican Rep. Steve Handy said his bill would create an 11-member commission to study the concept of replacing the current Utah state flag. On the House floor on Friday, Handy said his legislation wasn't necessarily about getting rid of the current version, but about evaluating potential new designs for the flag. 

Glass of beer with thumbs up next to it.
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The House of Representatives gathered at Health and Human Services on Wednesday to discuss Senate Bill 132, which would have raised the alcohol-by-volume limit from 3.2 percent up to 4.8 percent. But when it went through the House of Representatives, it was rejected.

Remodelista

A law making sex outside of marriage a misdemeanor crime in Utah for more than four decades could be headed toward repeal.

The state Legislature voted Wednesday to repeal the measure, which now heads to Republican Gov. Gary Herbert. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether he will approve it.

Republican Rep. Paul Ray says the 1973 law was unenforceable. Lawmakers also voted this year to repeal similar statutes against adultery and sodomy between consenting adults.

Utah lawmakers have tabled legislation requiring counties in the state to use tax money to provide female birth control in jails.   

Utah Lawmakers Debate Ban On Child Marriages

Feb 27, 2019
Twenty20

A bill aimed at halting child marriages in Utah has been approved by a legislative committee and will advance to the full state House of Representatives.

Lawmakers have unveiled an overview of their proposal to make sweeping changes to the state's tax system, including a reduction of the sales tax and the addition of new taxes on services ranging from haircuts to legal work.

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments has won congressional approval.

The measure is the largest public lands bill approved by Congress in more than a decade. The House passed the bill Tuesday, 363-62, sending it to the White House for the president's signature.

A coalition of environmental groups objected Tuesday to the U.S. government's approval of the early stages of an oil shale project near the Utah-Colorado border by a company with ties to Estonia.

An intent to sue filed by a coalition including Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity challenges the Bureau of Land Management's September decision to allow Enefit American Oil to build transmission lines and pipelines on a 19-mile corridor on federal lands.

It is the first step required by law before being able to sue. The BLM now has two months to respond.

Garbage can overflowing with plastics
Pixabay

Individuals and groups in Cache County have worked for years to put a ban on all single-use plastics, but this year, the Utah State Legislature could be standing in the way.

Democratic Rep. Angela Romero

A bid to ban marriage for 15-year-olds in Utah has cleared its first hurdle with support from women who have left polygamous groups.

Democratic Rep. Angela Romero had originally proposed a ban on all marriages under 18, but agreed to an amendment for older teenagers if a judge is involved and gives permission. Current law allows 16 and 17-year-olds to wed with only a parent's consent.

"A child should be a child," she said, arguing that unions involving people younger than 18 are associated with higher rates of divorce and lower levels of education.

Shireen Ghorbani

A woman who made unsuccessful bids for Congress and Salt Lake County mayor has been elected by Democratic party members to the Salt Lake County Council.

Shireen Ghorbani topped nine other candidates in a Saturday special election to fill the at-large seat left open when Jenny Wilson was elected county mayor last month.

Ghorbani is a communications professional at the University of Utah.

She drew 72 percent of the vote in second-round balloting against longtime activist and former Democratic party vice chairwoman Josie Valdez.

Two Republican lawmakers proposed a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors in conservative Utah on Thursday, a plan that's been hailed as a milestone by advocates and won't be opposed by the influential Mormon church.

Republican Rep. Dan McCay acknowledged he isn't a typical sponsor for such a measure, but he said it's an important way to support LGBT youth amid an alarming spike in youth suicide.

"This is the Utah we want. This Utah we're all going to fight for, for the rest of our time so we deliver a place to you that you are welcome," he said.

tOrange.biz

State lawmakers pressed pause Wednesday on two gun measures, including a proposal inspired by the shooting death of University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey.

The plan to hold gun owners civilly liable if they lend out a firearm used in a crime stalled out after hitting opposition from gun-rights advocates.

Two other voluntary gun-safety proposals supported by the gun groups like the National Rifle Association were approved by a panel of lawmakers, sending them to the full House of Representatives.

A proposal to strengthen Utah's hate-crimes law will get a hearing, marking a potential turning point for the idea long stuck in legislative gridlock, lawmakers said Tuesday.

Republican sponsor Sen. Daniel Thatcher said the bill will be publicly discussed on Thursday, and he's confident that a panel of lawmakers will approve it.

"It was very difficult, it was a long road and we still have a long way to go," he said. The full Senate may be a tougher sell, though Thatcher said he remains hopeful it will pass.

A Utah lawmaker wants to ban most abortions after 18 weeks of gestation, a change to a proposal that originally would have banned the procedure after 15 weeks.

Republican Rep. Cheryl Acton said Tuesday she made the change for "strategic reasons," and to help the idea survive a court challenge that's likely if it becomes law.

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If the Great Salt Lake dries up much more than it already has, the consequences could be devastating. 

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Woods Cross Republican Sen. Todd Weiler’s SB119 meant to extend the ban on large trucks currently in place for the Legacy Parkway in Davis County. The original expiration date for that ban is January 1st of 2020. If the ban expires, it would end fifteen years of Legacy Parkway being a quieter alternative for commuters – and for the residents who live along the road’s edge.

Police line do not cross tape.
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Utah State Senator Daniel Thatcher has been proposing the Victim Targeting Penalty bill for years now.

Safe UT

SafeUT is a smartphone app for Utahns who want to contact licensed mental health clinicians in times of crisis. The app can also be used as a tip line if you notice someone who may need help. And it's also being used to convince state lawmakers to fund mental health counselors in Utah schools.

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