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Utah set to get a new holiday, if Cox signs on

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has until the end of the month to sign or veto a bill.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Governor Spencer Cox speaks about the legislative session during a press conference, Friday, March 4, 2022.

From legislation proposing the ban of indecent books to taking selfies on the road, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has hundreds of bills to review amid the end of the 2022 legislative session.

Here are five bills you may have missed. Cox has until March 24 to sign or veto a bill.

New state holiday

Starting this year, Utahns could soon celebrate a new state holiday.

A Utah bill would make Juneteenth National Freedom Day a state holiday. The holiday, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., has been celebrated by Black Americans since the late-19th century.

Also known as June Nineteenth, the holiday marks the day in 1865 when Union troops arrived in Texas more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to tell remaining enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and that they were free.

In the aftermath of nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black Minnesota man who was killed by a white police officer in 2020, more states and businesses have made an effort to officially recognize the holiday. President Joe Biden last year signed a law to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Under Utah’s bill, if the holiday falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday it will be celebrated on the preceding Monday. If the holiday falls on a weekend it will be observed the following Monday, giving people a three-day weekend.

Selfies on the road

A bill approved by the Utah Legislature would make you think twice about pulling out your phone while driving.

SB102, sponsored by state Sen. Chris Wilson, R-Logan, would prohibit an individual from taking selfies or photographs while operating a vehicle. In 2016, distracted driving was the cause of nearly 6,000 crashes and 27 deaths on Utah roads, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Banned books

Lawmakers moved to pass a controversial bill that would ban books that contain “sensitive instruction materials” at public schools. Under the bill, sensitive materials are defined as “pornographic or indecent.”

HB374, sponsored by state Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, would also require the State Board of Education and the Utah Attorney General’s Office to give public schools guidance on how to identify prohibited materials. The proposed legislation would exempt books used for science and medical courses.

Darker window tinting

A bill approved by the Utah Legislature would allow darker window tinting on cars. Currently, the law allows car windows that allow 43% of light to go through them in the front side window. This proposed bill, sponsored by state Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, would lower that threshold to 35%, along with a 5% buffer observed by a law enforcement officer.

Hard seltzers

Your favorite hard seltzer flavor may be pulled from grocery stores under the Utah Legislature’s omnibus alcohol bill.

SB176, sponsored by state Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, would require hard seltzers that contain ethyl alcohol to be pulled from grocery store shelves and instead be sold in only in state liquor stores. Ethyl alcohol is an ingredient commonly used in beer, wine and adult beverage concentrates.

Several flavors belonging to brands like Truly Hard Seltzer, Vizzy Hard Seltzer and Bud Light Seltzer contain ethyl alcohol. Click here for a full list of products impacted.