All the things the Utah State Legislature did to your life this year

This article originally appeared on Fox 13. Read it in its entirety here.

SALT LAKE CITY — What just happened?

The Utah State Legislature just happened!

Hard to believe it was 45 days ago that lawmakers opened the 2019 legislative session to protests over their plans to replace Proposition 3, the voter-approved Medicaid-expansion ballot initiative. They did, and the bill they imposed (later signed into the law by Governor Gary Herbert) will go into effect next month, when people will begin enrolling.

Demonstrators rally in support of Proposition 3 on the opening day of the Utah State Legislature. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

It will provide healthcare coverage for some of Utah’s poorest, but critics say it doesn’t go far enough, nor is it what voters wanted. Lawmakers and the governor insist it won’t be a budget buster and they’re trying to persuade the Trump administration to grant waivers to make it less of a financial burden on the state.

Speaking of money, the other big bill the legislature tried to push through didn’t happen. Governor Gary Herbert called for a $200 million tax cut as part of his proposed budget. House Speaker Brad Wilson tried to one-up him with a $225 million cut. Senate President Stuart Adams was supportive of tax modernization. They argued that Utah’s economy has shifted from a goods-based economy to a service-based one. That’s impacting state revenues, which pay for critical government services from roads to education.

What emerged was a bill that would lower sales and income taxes, but tax services (things like haircuts, legal services, advertising, plumbing, piano lessons, etc.). The bill was set to push through in the last two weeks of the session, but in the face of big pushback from small business owners, self-employed Utahns and the public at large, the bill imploded. Lawmakers were forced to pull it. That led to a budget battle between the House and Senate that could have left a lot of big-ticket items unfunded. It resolved itself two days before Sine Die.

Make no mistake, the tax bill will happen. The governor and legislative leaders told FOX 13 they will push forward with “tax modernization” over the next few months. They’ll hold public hearings and solicit feedback. The governor has promised a special session.

A record 573 bills passed and will be reviewed by the governor for his signature or veto. Here’s some of the things the legislature did to your life this year:

Marijuana

Legislative leadership called for a “cooling off period” after December’s special session that replaced voter-approved Prop. 2, the medical cannabis ballot initiative. Still, a few bills dealing with marijuana did get through. Sen. Luz Escamilla’s bill to ensure government employees aren’t declared drug dealers when they hand out state-approved weed passed.

Freshman Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost proposed some changes to blister packs and the patient cap for doctors, but her bill went nowhere. Likewise, Rep. Marsha Judkins’ proposal to add autoimmune disorders to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis also went nowhere.

Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers passed a bill to expand hemp production under a pilot program in Utah. Sen. Jake Anderegg passed a resolution supporting loosening restrictions on banking in the cannabis industry.

Alcohol

Beer on display inside a “beer cave” inside a Maverik convenience store in Riverton. (Image by Pete Deluca, FOX 13 News)

Sen. Jerry Stevenson ran a bill to change the legal definition of beer, dumping 3.2 beer for 4.8% alcohol-by-weight. Faced with disappearing product from store shelves as other states abandon 3.2 beer for heavier brews, Utah is alone. But the House didn’t see it as a “simple commerce bill.” House Rules Committee Chairman Tim Hawkes, R-Centerville, called it a “perceived crisis” and resisted the bill. When it got a hearing, it was hijacked. Supporters of the hill, ranging from Walmart to Maverik, have warned product will disappear. Their lobbyists threatened a ballot initiative in 2020. A deal was struck and Utah is still “unique” with 4% ABW. It’ll keep about 88% of product labels on store shelves. The governor told FOX 13 he will likely sign it into law.

Rep. Hawkes did pass a bill that would allow beer flights up to the size of a typical pour. But there was division over a part of the bill that would allow beer to be picked up at grocery stores if it’s ordered online. Lawmakers agreed to hold off on that part for another year, but will allow convenience stores to hand out beer through pull-up windows, enabling clerks to check ID.

Ballot Initiatives and Elections

After voters approved Prop. 2 (medical marijuana) and Prop. 3 (Medicaid expansion), lawmakers ran a number of bills to change how those ballot initiatives get implemented and get on the ballot.

One bill would delay any ballot initiative until 60 days after it goes into effect, giving the legislature time to review it. Another creates a real-time website that lets you see who’s signed a petition and also remove that signature in real-time. A third changed some of the signature thresholds for citizen referendums to qualify for the ballot. A bill also passed requiring more disclosure in who’s financially backing ballot initiatives.

On the last week of the session, Sen. Kathleen Riebe ran a bill to let citizen referendum petition signers sue if the legislature and governor replace an initiative. The bill never got a hearing.

A bill to add Utah to the list of presidential primary states on “Super Tuesday” passed.

A bill to extend the deadline for cities to participate in an experiment with “ranked choice voting” passed the final day of the legislature.

Rep. Craig Hall passed a bill to allow campaign funds to pay for childcare. It follows a federal rule that does the same thing. Supporters argue the bill will allow more women to get into politics.

A bill banning “straight ticket voting” (hitting one button and voting for all candidates of one party) died on the board this year.

Candidates don’t have to publish their home address in public filings if they provide an alternative address or phone number under a bill that passed the legislature.

Business

Rep. Karen Kwan passed a bill that allows professional licensing exams to be offered in languages other than English.

A bill to block prospective employers from asking about your past salary history failed to pass. But lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting employers from asking about an expunged criminal record.

Sen. Deidre Henderson passed a bill that cut through regulatory red tape for food trucks. Now, one business license is good for multiple cities.

Lawmakers passed a bill giving $500,000 to help rural Utah communities create “workshare spaces” where people can go to telecommute.

A tax break for companies that provide benefits for working parents, including on-site child care and flexible schedules passed a House committee, but stalled in the remainder of the legislative session.

Military Installation Defense Authority (MIDA) is used to annex land and provide resources for development. SB269 helps with the construction of a hotel near Jordanelle.

Polygamy

Two witnesses hug after testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in support of HB214. (Image by Todd Gilbert, FOX 13 News)

A bill that would allow people leaving polygamous communities to dip into the state crime victims fund has passed. The catch? To get the money, they have to cooperate with law enforcement.

Safety

A bill to create a “Silver Alert” for a missing person with dementia passed the legislature. It’s similar to an AMBER Alert or a missing person advisory.

Courts and legal matters

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss tried to bring back the insanity defense, basically arguing that if a person is so severe mentally ill, it’s a mitigating factor in the crime they committed. She faced resistance from fellow lawmakers, but the bill survived to be studied over the next year.

A first-of-its kind bill to require law enforcement to get a warrant if they wanted to see your IMs, DMs, emails and other electronic communications passed.

A bill to block putting tracking devices on a car passed the legislature. After a lot of late-night back and forth between lawmakers, it was amended to include an exemption for private investigators.

Rep. Angela Romero passed a bill raising the marriage age to 18 in Utah. The only exception is 16 or 17 if you get permission from a judge and parents. A bill to block marriages between half-siblings and uncles/aunts/nieces/nephews also passed.

Rep. Mike McKell’s bill to allow some sexual battery lawsuits to go forward against government employees passed.

A bill to limit “extreme emotional distress” as a defense to murder — meaning you were caught up in the emotion of the moment — passed the legislature.

A resolution allowing nonprofits and churches to offer “compassionate care” and, in some cases, an apology to abuse victims without that necessarily constituting an admission of liability in court. Rep. Ken Ivory wanted to give some comfort to abuse victims, but his legislation had mixed feelings from advocates for survivors of clergy abuse and never made it out of committee.

A bill was run to ensure a juvenile’s right to an attorney was protected, passing in the final days of the session.

Guns

In the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting last year, Utah lawmakers talked about guns. But the bills they ran in the next legislative session affirmed the right to firearms. Gun control bills didn’t get too far. Rep. Stephen Handy’s bill allowing someone to petition the courts to take away a person’s gun in the case of extreme risk didn’t get anywhere.

Rep. Steve Eliason’s bill to hand out gun locks with new firearm purchases (and make them more available statewide) passed the legislature. The bill offers coupons for the purchase of firearm safes. Rep. Eliason said the bill could be used to help Utah’s youth suicide epidemic.

Rep. Elizabeth Weight’s bill to make it a crime to not safely store your firearm was quickly defeated in a House committee. So was Rep. Joel Briscoe’s bill to ban guns within 500 feet of a school.

Police officers can no longer carry a gun while intoxicated. A loophole in the law was closed.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Susan Pulsipher to fund a study on violence (including rampage violence) didn’t get anywhere in the legislature. Neither did a bill to ban bump stocks run by Rep. Patrice Arent. A bill to alert police if someone with a protective order against them bought a gun also failed to get traction.

Rep. Cory Maloy’s “stand your ground” bill that says you don’t have to retreat in the face of an “aggressor” passed the legislature. The bill faced opposition from a number of groups. He also sponsored a bill allowing for voluntary commitment of a firearm to law enforcement if someone is a threat to themselves or others. But a resolution declaring that Utah should enforce the gun laws it has rather than enact new ones stalled in the Senate.

A bill named after murdered University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey that would increase liability for gun owners who lend their weapons to someone who uses it in a crime failed to pass.

A bill that would let someone seeking a protective order carry a concealed weapon without a permit passed.

House Minority Leader Brian King’s bill for universal background checks was never considered.

A bill allowing people to conceal carry right before they’re 21 (the legal age to do so) was introduced, but ran out of time to be heard.

Healthcare

Lawmakers passed several bills on medical billing transparency. Rep. Brad Daw’s bill would have the Utah Dept. of Health create a site for you to see how much some healthcare items cost. Rep. Mike Winder proposed a bill requiring hospitals and healthcare providers to give you a price list (that didn’t make it through in time).

A bill to raise the smoking age in Utah to 21 passed. But a bill taxing vaping products at the rate of tobacco failed. Another bill moving flavored vaping products out of convenience stores also failed to pass.

Some nurse practitioners can now prescribe Schedule II substances under a bill that passed.

Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost carried on the bill of her predecessor (Rebecca Chavez-Houck) to allow terminally-ill people the ability to end their lives. The bill never got a hearing (but Chavez-Houck had threatened it as a ballot initiative in 2020).

Autism would be covered under some healthcare plans under a bill that passed the legislature. Lawmakers also passed a bill creating a rare diseases council in an effort to help those with such afflictions.

Trampoline parks will have to undergo inspections and face more safety standards under a bill passed by Rep. Norm Thurston. It would also require them to have some types of licensing and insurance.

A bill to enhance the penalties for abuse of a vulnerable or elderly adult passed. Lawmakers have also banned pelvic exams on patients under anesthesia who have not given consent.

Air Quality and Environment

Governor Gary Herbert called for $100 million to be spent to improve Utah’s air quality. It didn’t get that close (about $26 million), but the legislature’s clean air caucus says more money was spent than ever before. Money has been given to replace wood-burning stoves for cleaner burning ones.

There were also a few big bills that made it through: Cities have more power to start cracking down on idling vehicles (after the legislature previously took that power away). Rep. Angela Romero passed a bill to crack down on “rolling coal” trucks that spew excess exhaust.

A bill to expand the Jordan River Recreation area passed the legislature. It now goes to 4800 South and there’s more for cleanup efforts.

The legislature did not reinstate a tax credit for purchasing an energy efficient vehicle.

More money has been thrown at UTA to allow for free fare days when the air quality gets really bad.

A bill to add a carbon tax in Utah never got out of a committee hearing.

Rep. Derrin Owens sponsored a bill to offer more money to fire departments to prepare for wildfire season.

The House killed, then resurrected a watered-down bill creating protected areas for gravel pits. The bill faced a lot of pushback from people who live near gravel pits.

A bill to change how radioactive waste is accepted into Utah passed the legislature. Critics say it would allow depleted uranium in Utah, which gets more radioactive over time.

A bill that would lay the groundwork for eventual metering of secondary water sources passed. It only applies to new hookups.

Abortion

Two bills passed the Utah State Legislature that are sure to draw lawsuits. One bill sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Acton bans abortion after 18 weeks (with exceptions for rape, incest, or safety of the mother). The bill is viewed by supporters as a vehicle to overturn Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Supreme Court, and Rep. Acton says she isn’t afraid of a legal challenge.

The other bill, sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, prohibits abortions when the sole diagnosis of a fetus is Down Syndrome. Gov. Herbert has declared himself a “pro-life” guy, but hasn’t said if he’ll sign them.

Education

Lawmakers budgeted $128 million more in per-pupil education funding this year. Sen. Ann Millner said it was a “very good year” for education with a lot of money being spent for both public ed and higher ed.

A bill to requires new school buses to have seat belts died over complaints it would cost too much.

Teachers can now talk about contraception and its effectiveness under a sex ed bill passed by Rep. Ray Ward.

School boards will have to give more public notice and take more community input on potential school closures, particularly of low-performing schools under a bill that passed the legislature.

Bills to boost school safety passed the legislature after a lot of negotiation. One provides more resources for digital tools and better reporting of school safety. Some info on students may be shared with police. School-based mental health therapists will be deployed. Another increases resources for apps to report crisis situations in schools, and another expands suicide prevention education.

A bill to ask teachers why they’re quitting has passed the legislature. It would create a public education exit survey.

Lawmakers will spend some money for a program to help design and promote safe routes for walking and bicycling to school.

Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne and Rep. Lee Perry passed a bill giving more funding to anti-gang programs.

A bill that would have banned cell phones in schools (with exceptions) failed to pass. So did a bill shaking up the State Board of Education also failed to pass.

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee passed a bill cracking down on school fees. It sets a maximum fee, won’t let fees be charged for textbooks and demands public hearings for fee hikes.

Lawmakers passed a bill on financial literacy, including teaching about the effects of capitalism, socialism, communism.

Teachers, professors and higher ed instructors have been added to the “position of special trust” for enhancement in sex abuse cases.

Making a threat against a school, even if it’s a hoax, would have been criminalized under a bill introduced late in the session. The bill ran out of time in the legislature.

In the aftermath of U of U student Lauren McCluskey’s murder, Sen. Jani Iwamoto and Rep. Lowry Snow ran a bill to improve campus safety plans.

Transportation and Roads

A bill allowing autonomous vehicles to operate in Utah had no trouble getting through the legislature. In fact, it practically drove itself to Governor Gary Herbert’s desk. So did a bill allowing drones on sidewalks.

Lawmakers passed a $1.6 billion bond to fund a number of transportation projects across the state. Supporters said it would continue to ensure critical infrastructure projects are funded.

Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert passed a bill to raise the motor vehicle safety inspection fees. Senator Jake Anderegg proposed a bill to no longer require you to carry an insurance card (so long as you had insurance) but it didn’t get too far.

A bill that provides some regulation for e-scooters (including prohibiting riding while drinking) like Lime and Bird passed the legislature.

A bill to let you go through a red light when no one else is around (after stopping for at least 90 seconds) had the brakes hit on it in the Senate and failed to pass. A bill that would have banned distracted driving (i.e., only hands-free devices) died quickly in the House. But motorcyclists can “lane filter” or go around/between stopped cars in traffic.

A bill to allow some heavier vehicles including buses or semis towing a trailer into the left lanes on roads passed.

Bicyclists will not be able to go through stop signs and lights as a yield in certain circumstances. The bill, popular among cyclists, failed to pass the House.

Cities can’t throw up so many roadblocks against nighttime highway construction under a bill that passed. However, they can require more mitigation efforts by contractors doing overnight road work.

Rep. Phil Lyman passed a bill making certain road closures a misdemeanor crime. A bill that lets you only have one license plate on your car failed to pass. A bill allowing you to tint your vehicle windows to a darker shade failed.

Take a minute to mourn “Transit District Utah.” The poorly conceived (and super expensive) rebranding name for Utah Transit Authority was finally scrapped in a new bill that lawmakers approved.

Lawmakers in Davis County tried to extend the ban on trucks on the Legacy Parkway. Sen. Todd Weiler tried, and when his bill failed, Rep. Melissa Garff Ballard ran a bill to do the exact same thing. Both bills died in the face of support from the trucking industry. Environmentalists aren’t ruling out a lawsuit.

A bill to allow for electronic driver licenses has passed the House. Driver license renewal has been extended from every 5 years to 8.

Gambling

A bill cracking down on “fringe gaming devices” passed the legislature after weeks of negotiations and talk about what those devices exactly are and what constitutes gambling. They mostly go after slot-type machines emerging in some Utah convenience stores.

Sen. David Hinkins ran a bill to allow parimutuel betting in Utah. He bet on a 1920s-era Utah Supreme Court ruling that betting on horses was not a “game of chance” and therefore not a violation of the state constitution. But it didn’t get very far. In the face of opposition from the governor and the LDS Church, he killed his own bill.

LGBTQ Rights

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, celebrates after his hate crimes bill is allowed to be heard in the Utah State Legislature. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Few bills generate so much controversy as ones dealing with Utah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. After years of trying, Sen. Daniel Thatcher’s bill to enchance penalties for hate crimes finally passed. But a lot of other categories were added to appease opponents, including “political expression.” Sen. Thatcher says he can live with it. The governor has said he’ll sign the bill into law.

A bill to ban conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth was introduced with fanfare, but the bill was hijacked in committee and changed so much that its sponsor killed it. That sparked protests and even an apology to LGBTQ youth from Gov. Herbert. Rep. Craig Hall has promised to try to bring it back next year.

A bill that would have refused to allow gender marker changes on birth certificates for transgender people was introduced. After a lot of controversy, Rep. Merrill Nelson pulled his bill in an agreement with Sen. Todd Weiler, who agreed not to run his bill creating a legal process for trans people to change their gender marker.

Public lands

A bill to allow the creation of “state monuments” passed very early on in the legislative session.

Vandalism on state and federal lands got bumped up to a class B misdemeanor under a bill passed by Sen. Kirk Cullimore. The vandalism includes graffiti and etching.

A resolution passed saying the state should form land management plans that reflect “state and local interests” for federally managed lands. A similar measure passed in the Senate.

Crime and punishment

A bill to allow crime victims or their families to ask an outside agency to review the investigation in cases of murder and missing persons passed the legislature. So did a bill allowing the Attorney General to also review cases local prosecutors decline.

“Fake pee” is now illegal in Utah. The legislature approved a bill cracking down on the use of synthetic urine to pass a drug test.

19-year-olds can do some jobs in county jails under a bill that passed the legislature.

Taggers and other vandals will face more restitution, and victims of graffiti get more of a break in trying to remove it before being cited under a bill that passed.

Rep. Angela Romero and Sen. Todd Weiler passed a bill adding domestic violence to the list of reasons to be denied bail.

The Utah State Code that prohibits adultery in the state. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Adultery, sodomy and fornication are no longer illegal in Utah. Rep. Paul Ray and Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne passed a series of criminal code cleanup bills. Utah’s longstanding bans on sex outside of marriage were included in them and passed with only slight objections from more conservative members of the legislature (the courts have already ruled they were unenforceable).

Rep. Stephanie Pitcher passed a bill to require pregnant inmates to be unshackled when giving birth. She also passed a bill to study fees that inmates are charged while incarcerated.

Remember the last episode of Seinfeld? A bill that would have made it a crime to fail to call 911 if you see a serious incident taking place was introduced by House Minority Leader Brian King. It failed to pass.

Police use-of-force investigations were expanded to include serious bodily injury and not just death.

Websites that make money by forcing you to pay to have your booking mugshot removed will now be forced to do it under penalty of law. (FYI, there is an exemption for news media websites.)

Female genital mutilation is now banned in Utah.

Offenders may now be asked to pay for their victims’ security measures under a bill that passed as part of restitution.

Animals

Aggravated animal cruelty has been added to the list of domestic violence offenses.

“Support animals” got defined in Utah and the law was clarified on when they can be allowed in rental properties. Also, falsely claiming that you have a support animal or service animal becomes a class C misdemeanor.

The legislature approved a bill giving some defenses to family farms facing nuisance complaints. It’s in response to housing developments encroaching on agricultural operations and then complaints about smells.

Opioids

The Utah State Legislature continued its efforts to combat the opioid crisis by funding more efforts to educate people about their dangers. A special committee was created to study opioid-related fatalities in Utah. More efforts were made to inform patients about the dangers of opioids and increase reporting of controlled-substance related issues.

There was also requirements to do more checking of the state’s controlled substances database.

Utilities

A bill was run (with an appropriation request) for nuclear power and molten salt reactors. A resolution was also run supporting newer-model small nuclear reactors.

Daylight Saving Time

As sure as the clocks change, so does the bills to get rid of Daylight Saving Time. Rep. Marsha Judkins’ bill to ask voters to decide the issue stalled for weeks, then she got a hearing on the last week of the session when she changed her bill to back federal legislation on the issue being sponsored by Congressman Rob Bishop. The resolution passed. It’ll let states decide whether to stick with DST or not.

Government

A bill that would have allowed communities to “secede” from a county and form a new one died on the House floor. The bill was mainly aimed at Salt Lake County, but San Juan County was bantered about. That brought opposition from the newly-elected Native American county commissioners from San Juan County and Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.

The inland port, a massive import/export center planned on Salt Lake City’s west side (and the subject of a massive amount of political fighting and a lawsuit by Mayor Jackie Biskupski) will see some more modifications. The legislature passed a bill to expand its reach outside Salt Lake County by setting up satellites and keeping some of the tax revenue in the county. Meanwhile, a bill that would provide more environmental monitoring of the project also passed. Lawmakers also passed a bill to shift $55 million to either a coal port or the inland port.

A bill to give some immunity for a sheriff or county commissioner who takes matters into his/her own hands to take steps to prevent a “catastrophic wildfire” passed the legislature. It’s in response to gripes that the feds won’t clean up forested areas that are tinder for fires.

Lawmakers passed a bill cracking down on unauthorized use of government funds or property, including making misuse of public property a crime.

The legislature is spending money to study how much of a workload the legislature has.

A bill introduced in the legislature blocked cities from enacting bans on plastic straws, single-use bags, containers and other items. It was directly aimed at Park City and Moab, which instituted bag bans, and Logan, which is considering it. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike McKell, argued it was about creating a uniform policy. Opponents accused the legislature of dictating what cities can do. The House refused to debate the bill.

Some government employees (like police officers) will have personal information exempt from public disclosure under open records laws.

Homelessness and Housing

Lawmakers took some steps to address Utah’s affordable housing crisis. One bill would have spent $24 million to incentivize more affordable housing developments in the state, while also pushing cities to plan better for it. The funding was stripped out of it, but lawmakers say it still set important policies for affordable housing.

House Minority Leader Brian King and Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne teamed up to expand the tax credits offered to employers who provide jobs to people experiencing homelessness.

A bill to give more shelter access to homeless youth passed the legislature.

Money and Taxes

Bounce a check? The fee is now $35 under a bill passed by the legislature.

Rep. Sue Duckworth’s bill to remove the sales tax on diapers, tampons and other hygiene products failed to get anywhere for another year.

The legislature passed a resolution urging the Utah State Tax Commission to study just how many tax incentives it hands out to businesses that move in.

Resolutions and Other Stuff

A resolution is not legally binding, but it’s a statement from the legislature. Still, they can be quite the statement from Utah. Here’s a few that made it through:

The Victims of Communism Memorial Day
Missing/Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and LGBT+ Awareness Day
Recognizing the economic importance of outdoor recreation in Utah
Recognizing the importance of the Great Salt Lake and taking steps to protect it
Recognizing the importance of Bear Lake and working with Idaho to protect it
Encouraging the purchase of Tier 3 fuels and urging fuel makers to make it
Celebrating the 100th birthday of Joe McQueen
A day honoring railroad workers who built the transcontinental railroad
A resolution honoring Orem on its 100th anniversary

“Water banking,” that lets water holders save their water or lend it to someone else without losing their rights, passed the legislature under a resolution sponsored by Sen. Jani Iwamoto. It’s meant to help in times of drought by sharing water.

A resolution was passed to study blockchain technology and its applications in Utah government. The legislature also passed a bill to consider a pilot project using blockchain.

A resolution was passed recognizing women’s “equal political, civil, and religious rights contained in the Utah Constitution and recommends the inclusion of similar language in the United States Constitution.” While sounding very much like the Equal Rights Amendment, Rep. Karen Kwan said it was a “uniquely Utah” solution to the ERA.

A resolution was passed encouraging a humane response to the refugee crisis, including opposing separation of families at the U.S. Mexico border.

The legislature made the Gila Monster the state reptile at the request of some Santa Clara school kids.

The legislature considered a bill to create a commission to look at replacing the Utah State flag, described as a “seal on a bedsheet.” It died on the Senate floor when they adjourned an hour early.

Utah is joining the list of states calling for a “con-con,” or a Constitutional Convention of the United States. The resolution brought together strange bedfellows: the conservative Utah Eagle Forum, the liberal Alliance for a Better Utah and the centrist League of Women Voters all opposed it and called the resolution “dangerous” because they fear the entire U.S. Constitution could be re-written. Supporters say it would be for a balanced budget.

Constitutional Amendments

A series of proposed constitutional amendments were pushed in the Utah State Legislature. Here’s the ones you’ll be voting on in the next election:

One that deals with cities that have water outside their boundaries, and ensuring that people still have access to water. It lets cities sell their water.

A proposed amendment to remove slavery from Utah’s constitution. Rep. Sandra Hollins brought the amendment after it was discovered in the state’s founding document.

Utah’s Constitution could be gender-neutral. Sen. Deidre Henderson passed a proposed amendment to remove “him” and “he” from the earlier parts of the state’s founding document to include women.

This article originally appeared on Fox 13. Read it in its entirety here.

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