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Session starts with debut of Down syndrome abortion bill, State of Judiciary address

SALT LAKE CITY — The 2018 Utah Legislature began Monday, with lawmakers meeting to conduct mostly procedural business in the state Senate and House chambers.

Highlights on Capitol Hill for Day 1 of the 45-day session include:

• House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told lawmakers he won’t allow the Legislature to be treated like a part-time branch of government, and he promised several separation of powers measures to resolve the dispute legislators had with Gov. Gary Herbert over how to conduct a midterm congressional election.

• Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, described a long list of issues facing lawmakers, including dealing with a transportation infrastructure that remains congested despite billions of dollars of investment over the years. Niederhauser also honored Matt Hillyard, the late son of Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan. Matt Hillyard, who had Down syndrome and died in January at 42, celebrated his birthday at the Legislature every year.

• Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, unveiled a bill that would make it illegal for a medical provider to perform an abortion if they have knowledge that the woman seeking the procedure is doing so for "the sole reason" that the child would be born with Down syndrome. If passed, HB205 would make performing an abortion in that circumstance a class A misdemeanor.

• Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant said many new judges, administrative turnover and criminal, civil and juvenile justice reforms have significantly changed the state's court system the past few years. In his 2018 State of the Judiciary address, Durrant noted that 77 judges have taken the bench, and all four of his colleagues on the state's high court have joined him within the last eight years, including newly appointed Justice Paige Peterson. Peterson replaced longtime Justice Christine Durham, who recently retired.

• The Legislature's Point of the Mountain Development Commission will meet at 5 p.m. in Room 445 at the Capitol for an overview of the project, as well as visions and recommendations for development of the area from Envision Utah and other planners.

• The Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee is set to interview Brody Keisel, who was appointed as a judge to fill a vacancy on the 6th District Juvenile Court, at 5 p.m. in Room 450 at the Captiol. If confirmed by the Senate, Keisel will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Paul Lyman, effective Dec. 31, 2017. The 6th Judicial District includes Garfield, Kane, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne counties.