clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Utah governor signs bills to remove ill officials, fund homeless shelters

FILE - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during an interview at the Utah state Capitol, Thursday, March 8, 2018, in Salt Lake City.
FILE - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during an interview at the Utah state Capitol, Thursday, March 8, 2018, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert signed bills allowing removal of incapacitated elected officials, provided state money for homeless shelters and reduced the window for setting off fireworks Tuesday.

According to a news release from the governor's office on Tuesday, Herbert signed 136 more bills and seven concurrent resolutions, bringing the total number of signed pieces of legislation from the 2018 Legislature to 325.

SB38, which rose out of the controversy surrounding former Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott and his time in office while suffering a progressive form of dementia, allows for the removal of mentally incapacitated elected officials in certain counties.

The bill sets in statute a multi-step process for certain counties to remove elected officials from office if they are determined to have a permanent mental incapacity.

The law only applies to counties that adopt it as an ordinance. It allows removal only after a medical evaluation by a medical professional finds the elected official suffers from a permanent mental incapacity and the legislative body votes unanimously for removal.

It can be used in six of Utah's 29 counties — but not city or state offices. Its sponsor, Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, narrowed it so it could get the support it needed and address fears that it could be used as a political weapon against legislative bodies that have fewer than five members.

A pair of bills to help fund three new homeless resource centers and alleviate impact on their host cities, including Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake and Midvale, were also signed by the governor.

SB235 directs $5 million collected from local sales tax revenue to help pay for police and fire needs that come with the impact of homeless resource centers.

Cities hosting shelters — Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, Midvale, Ogden and St. George — will be granted the funds by the Utah Homeless Coordinating Committee if they demonstrate the need for additional police or fire protection as a result of the shelters.

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood said during the session that the bill's passage was a "big win" for her city, which will be requesting $2.6 million of the funds once they become available in January 2019.

HB462 will use $6.6 million from the state's general fund to pay for half of the new homeless resource centers' annual operations costs. The shelters' owner, Shelter the Homeless, will need to fundraise the other half of the annual costs.

Another bill signed into law was HB38, which reduces the number of days fireworks can be set off around the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day. It allows fireworks two days before July 4 and July 24 and one day after, a total of eight days around those two holidays. Previously the state allowed 14 total days around those two holidays.

Fireworks would remain legal on New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year. The measure does not ban aerial fireworks. It would give local governments the right to restrict fireworks in hazardous areas but does not permit an outright ban.

Among other laws signed Tuesday:

HB484, which creates a new grant program so work can start on nearly $40 million in needed repairs to 2002 Winter Games facilities as Utah eyes another Olympic bid.

• HB302, which creates a permitting process for the growth and sale of industrial hemp in the state of Utah.

HB12, which authorizes low-income women on Medicaid to have IUDs and other family planning assistance paid for by the program.