The Utah Legislature debated hundreds of bills and resolutions over the past 45 days. Beyond some of the bigger issues such as education, guns, housing and transit, here are some of the more notable proposals, starting with those that were approved:
Martha Hughes Cannon • Lawmakers voted to place a statue of Martha Hughes Cannon, the nation’s first female state senator, in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall collection. It would replace the one of television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth. Proponents of the resolution praised Cannon’s contributions to the women’s suffrage movement and noted that her statue could be installed in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
Medical marijuana • Legislators approved a pair of bills meant to give terminally ill people access to marijuana. One measure would set up the rules for patients; the other would allow the state to contract with a grower. A third bill would set up the legal framework for businesses to sell cannabidiol, or CBD, a cannabis compound that doesn’t have marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient. And all of them are much narrower than an initiative that may be on the ballots in November.
Domestic violence • The public death of a Utah woman and her son at the hands of a man she briefly dated prompted legislators to try to fix legal holes that may have contributed to her death. Of the nearly dozen domestic-violence-related bills this session, Jenn Oxborrow, director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, said Senate Bill 27, inspired by Memorez and Jase Rackley’s deaths, would have the biggest impact. The bill would change the definition of domestic violence to include people who are or had been in a consensual sexual relationship but aren’t married or living together, allowing them to obtain protective orders.
Inland port • The Legislature created a group to oversee the creation of an inland port, essentially a major distribution center linking rail, trucks and air cargo, near the Salt Lake City International Airport. Salt Lake City leaders objected, saying it steps on their powers to plan land use.
EnergySolutions • Legislators approved spending $1.7 million per year in taxpayer money to lower fees EnergySolutions would have to pay on radioactive-waste inspection. The company is the largest donor to lawmakers. Supporters say the fee cut is needed to help the company to compete against out-of-state firms that have lower taxes.
A new state dinosaur • Propelled by the enthusiasm of 10-year-old Kenyon Roberts, the Legislature passed a bill to name the Utahraptor as the state’s official dinosaur. To avoid a fight, the Utahraptor does not supplant the Allosaurus, which is Utah’s state fossil.
Tesla electric cars • It took a few years, court challenges and eventually some compromising with established Utah car dealers, but the Legislature has cleared the way for Tesla to operate its own dealerships for electric vehicles.
Fireworks • After a summer full of residential fires, lawmakers voted to reduce the number of days Utahns can use fireworks from 14 to eight. The bill would restrict firework use to July 2-5 and July 22-25. And it would give cities the ability to restrict fireworks depending on fire conditions.
Deaths in county jails • Utah lawmakers responded to a troubling spike in jail inmate deaths from suicide and medical conditions, bringing a bill that would require counties to report each case to the state’s Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said his plan is to review that data and develop new statewide detention policies.
The ‘Alex Wubbels’ bill • The University Hospital nurse’s aggressive arrest made national news, leading to the firing of the police officer involved and to a bill that easily gained the approval of state lawmakers. Under this proposal, when officers want to draw blood from a suspect, one of three conditions must be met: They must have consent, a warrant or a “judicially recognized exception to the warrant.”
Medicaid expansion • The Legislature signed off on a bill to partially expand Medicaid after several years of refusing to extend this coverage to impoverished adults who didn’t qualify for it. The legislation has a number of tweaks that would need to be approved by the feds. And it would compete with a proposed November ballot initiative that would cover tens of thousands of other low-income residents.
Suing California • The Legislature is prepared to spend $1.65 million on outside lawyers to sue California over rules that make importing coal more expensive and that have hurt Utah’s rural coal-producing counties. Gov. Gary Herbert was initially skeptical but now says he may go along with this plan.
Police quotas • Police administrators say quotas don’t exist but some former cops insist that they do. Either way, under a bill passed by lawmakers, police departments would be banned from giving officers quotas for writing tickets or making arrests.
Trump highway • Wanting to thank the president for shrinking two national monuments, Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, proposed renaming the 631-mile Utah National Parks Highway for President Donald Trump. It sparked national attention, particularly with Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, threatened to amend the bill to create a Stormy Daniels Rampway, a nod toward the former porn star who says she had an affair with Trump. Noel pulled the bill.
Campus sexual assault • Lawmakers debated a bill that would have clarified that college and university administrators could go against a victim’s wishes and report an assault to law enforcement agencies. Victims’ advocates opposed the bill. It passed the House but the Senate never seriously considered it.
Hate crimes • A group of cities and counties urged the Legislature to pass a hate crimes bill that prosecutors could use if someone targets a victim based on “ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation.” For a third year in a row, such a proposal went nowhere.
Drunken driving • Attempts to push back the effective date of Utah’s tough new drunken driving law — the strictest in the nation — never gained support among the state’s conservative lawmakers. The law, passed in 2017, will lower from 0.08 to 0.05 the state’s blood alcohol content for driving under the influence. It will go into effect Dec. 30.
Death penalty • House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, got onboard a conservative effort to abolish the death penalty. It never received a vote in the House. The Republican caucus didn’t come to a consensus after hearing intense testimony from family members of murder victims who were split on capital punishment.
Sales tax on food • The House passed a bill that would eliminate the state’s portion of the sales tax on unprepared food and would raise the sales tax on all other goods from 4.7 percent to 4.92 percent. The goal was to help low-income Utahns. The Senate didn’t like the plan, rejecting it in a committee.