Gov. Gary Herbert took action on the last of 477 bills sent to him by the Utah Legislature, vetoing one that dealt with seismic studies for schools due to a technicality.
It was the governor’s second veto this session — the first being a controversial abstinence-only sex education bill that sparked a massive outpouring of opposition and support, with more than 8,000 Utahns weighing in on the measure.
"After reviewing every bill, I recognize and thank the Legislature for the hard work and consensus-building that goes into each one," Herbert said in a statement. "Most importantly, we prioritized correctly and funded education efforts. We also spurred further growth in the economy by reducing taxes, eliminating unnecessary business regulation and empowering the private sector to succeed in the free market."
Herbert vetoed HB414, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, which approved proceeds from school bonds to be used to study seismic safety of schools. The governor called it a "friendly veto," and said he supports studying old school buildings to ensure they can withstand an earthquake.
Froerer said he met with Herbert and they agreed the bill needed to be vetoed. As it was written, HB414 required — rather than permitted — districts to use bond revenue to pay for the studies. That created problems for districts that had already approved bonds for other purposes and could have jeopardized the federal tax-exempt status of those bonds.
Herbert also signed legislation this week that would require couples filing for divorce to wait nearly three months to end a marriage, and bills implementing a two-year health care pilot program for children with autism, requiring parental permission for teens to tan at tanning salons, and expressing the state’s opposition to "indefinite detention" language in the National Defense Authorization Act.
Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, the sponsor of HB316, which extends the divorce waiting period to 90 days, said the change would serve as a cooling-off period for couples before they dissolve their marriage.
"What we’re doing is creating good public policy and allowing people a small period of time when they’re making a huge decision that has a lot of impact on their life to make a good decision," Peterson said during debate on the bill.
Opponents said forcing estranged couples to wait 90 days to end their marriage is intrusive and burdensome.
Courts would have the authority to waive the waiting period in certain cases.
Herbert also signed a bill aimed at providing health care coverage to several hundred young Utah children with autism. Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, fought hard for the project, which expands coverage through state insurance, Medicaid and contributions from insurance companies.
She argued the costs of autism can wreck families financially and a two-year pilot program will give the state good data on how much the coverage might cost and who should qualify.
Menlove had sought to mandate insurance plans to cover autism, but met stiff resistance from Republicans who oppose such government intervention.
Sen. Pat Jones’ bill would require parental approval every time a minor goes to a tanning salon. Tanning beds increase cancer risks, the Holladay Democrat argued, and parents should be aware of the danger.
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