Governor signs 11 bills, including one that brings charges for knee-on-neck police chokeholds

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert wears a mask as he waits in the hallway before the start of the daily briefing on the state's efforts to fight COVID-19 Wednesday, June 24, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Herbert signed 11 new bills into law Thursday.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed 11 bills from last week’s special session into law on Thursday.

Among them is HB5007, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, which makes it a third-degree felony for an officer to kneel on a suspect’s neck as a method of restraint and a first-degree felony if that action resulted in a person’s death.

In addition to outlawing the knee-on-neck tactic, Hollins’ measure also prohibits Utah’s police academy from teaching new officers how to use chokeholds, carotid restraints or “any act that impedes the breathing or circulation of blood likely to produce a loss of consciousness” as a valid form of restraint — but doesn’t outright ban officers from using them.

Chokeholds, but especially knee on-neck tactics, have come under fire in recent weeks since the latter was used by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin was later charged with second-degree murder.

Herbert also signed into law several bills related to budgets in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged the state’s economy.

Among the bills he inked Thursday is SB5003, which tweaked a measure the Legislature passed earlier this year that created immunity in most cases for businesses from lawsuits brought forward by people exposed to the coronavirus on their property. This update makes clear that those protections also apply to government agencies — including K-12 schools and higher education institutions.

The full list of bills signed by Herbert on Thursday is below.

  • HB5002: Open and Public Meetings Act Amendments

  • HB5003: School District Use of Property Tax Revenue

  • HB5004: Airport-related Alcohol Modifications

  • HB5005: Revisor’s Technical Corrections to Utah Code

  • HB5006: COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Modifications.

  • HB5007: Peace Officer Amendments

  • HB5009: Emergency Management Act Procurement Process Amendments

  • SB5001: Budget Balancing and Coronavirus Relief Appropriations Adjustments

  • SB5002: Changes to Procurement Code

  • SB5003: COVID-19 Immunity Provisions

  • SB5005: Rent and Mortgage Assistance Amendments