FLAGGED BILL: SB 39 – Parental Responsibility For Sex Education, Sen. Reid

Once in a while, a bill comes along that has the potential to do enormous good for Utah citizens – but also leaves concerns about what it might lead to in the future. This is one of those bills. Under current state law, Utah public schools offer what is known as Abstinence-Plus in their sex education classes – meaning that while contraceptives may be mentioned, discussion of them and their use is extremely limited. Abstinence is the only method teachers are allowed to promote. During the 2012 Legislative Session, (now former) Representative Bill Wright (R) ran HB 363, more commonly...

FLAGGED BILL: SB 120 – Target Shooting & Wildfire Regulations, Sen. Dayton

2012 saw an unusually high number of wildfires, costing taxpayers several million dollars to eventually contain them all. While the fires were started for many different reasons, from lightning strikes to fireworks, target shooting was among those at fault. In pro-gun Utah, target shooting is a time-honored tradition. But with the weather seeming to get warmer and warmer each summer, tracer ammunition and exploding targets can easily spell trouble in grass and shrubbery that has been dried out in 100 degree, humid-less heat. SB 120, from Senator Margaret Dayton (Republican, Orem), seeks to limit the damage in future years. Current law...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 50 – Dating Violence Protection Act, Rep. Jen Seelig

Domestic violence is always a serious crime, and one that can destroy lives permanently even if it never escalates to death. Unfortunately, there’s a glaring hole in Utah law – which can leave many without help until it’s too late. Under current law, there are several types of protective orders which can be obtained to protect victims of abuse, harm or stalking. If you are a co-habitating adult with, married to, or have children with the abusing person, a protective order is relatively easy to obtain. However, if you are simply dating a person who becomes abusive, the only available...

Utah Senator Seeks To Overhaul Legislative Process – Eliminate Boxcar Legislation

Senator Aaron Osmond (R, South Jordan), the sophomore Senator who last year took over the seat held by Chris Buttars, has just released a bill that could drastically change the way the Utah Legislature works. Boxcar legislation is all-too common on Utah’s Capitol Hill. The practice involves a legislator opening a bill file with a generic short title, but then holding it back until late in the legislative session before giving it language. This allows legislators to pull bills out at the last minute, when the Legislature is at its busiest moments. Sometimes boxcars can produce good legislation, responses to issues that...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 57 – Mental and Behavioral Health Amendments, Rep Dean Sanpei

Poll the state, and we believe you would find near-unanimous agreement that Utah is not doing enough to address mental health problems. Few states do. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health is the state’s authority on such issues. However, counties that operate under a county executive-council form of government act as the authority within their jurisdictions. As is often the case,  many times the right hand is unaware of what the left is doing, and important care for those suffering from mental health conditions can fall through the cracks. HB 57, from Representative Dean Sanpei (Republican, Provo), is...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 30 – Line-of-Duty Death & Disability Amendments, Rep. Ronda Menlove

When first reading HB 30 – Line-of-Duty Death and Disability Amendments one should be shocked; not because the bill was written, but because it had to be written in the first place. With HB 30, Representative Ronda Menlove (R – Garland, District 1) intends to add stress induced deaths (such as stroke or heart attacks) to the list of ailments public employees families could be compensated for from the state. These deaths have to occur in the field and have to be the result of legitimate strenuous activity – in other words, Bob in accounting wouldn’t be compensated if his heart finally gave out filing another TPS report, but...

FLAGGED BILL: SB 18 – Child Custody Proceedings Amendments, Sen. Luz Robles

Decisions about the custody of children during a divorce proceeding is frequently a nasty and damaging experience, for both the children and the parents. Any law that can ease that process and help determine what is in the best interest of the child is always a positive. A big part of what makes a child custody battle so difficult is the lack of pre-knowledge by the courts. Before a divorcing couple come before a moderator or judge, those officials have no insight into the dynamic and history of that family. In many cases, this leaves the determination of custody susceptible...

FLAGGED BILL: SB 25 – Elections During Declared Emergency, Sen Peter Knudson

Following Hurricane Sandy in late October this year, Utah’s Capitol Hill was buzzing with questions of what Utah would do if such an emergency were to strike here on election day. Current Utah law provides no flexibility or options for changing election dates, even if voters are unable to participate due to a declared emergency. If all roads were destroyed and it was physically impossible for voters to cast their ballots, current code basically says, “tough luck.” While Utah isn’t likely to be hit by a hurricane anytime soon, an earthquake or severe windstorm aren’t out of the question. Rules governing...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 14 – Requirements to Change Form of County Government, Rep Keith Grover

One should always be wary when a legislator is trying to increase or decrease the number of people necessary to make a petition appear on a ballot. When they are trying to reduce the number, it is generally because they have some form of pet project that they wish to push through, but also want to avoid the messy work of actually having to create legislation and be on the record. Lately, the trend has been to increase requirements to have a successful petition request show up on the ballot. Sure enough, it would appear that Representative Keith Grover (R – Provo, District 61)...

FLAGGED BILL: SB 20 – State Security Standards For Personal Info, Sen Stuart Reid

Last March, it was estimated that nearly 280,000 Utahns had their Social Security Numbers stolen from the state’s data banks, with an additional 500,000 having less sensitive personal data taken as well. This massive security breach stunned nearly everyone who paid attention, if only because we soon came to find out that the states security systems were sub-par. Since then, the state has all but been forced to scramble as it provides credit monitoring services to any and all Utahn’s to ensure that they are properly protected. In an attempt to prevent problems such as this in the future, Senator Stuart Reid...