SALT LAKE CITY — From feeding hungry students to eliminating the ability to vote the party line to looking more closely at personalized license plates, the impacts of Utah lawmakers’ annual 45-day session that ended in March will begin to be felt this week.
On Tuesday, most of the 510 bills passed by the 2020 Legislature will go into effect. Here’s how changes made by state lawmakers will affect you.
- Straight-ticket voting is a thing of the past in Utah as ballots will no longer include a box that allows them to vote for all of the candidates in one political party under HB70. Voters will need to go through one by one instead, which according to lawmakers, will encourage more-informed voters.
- Utah voters will have up to 11 days prior to an election to register to vote under HB36.
- A “community enhancement program,” aimed at addressing the impacts of an inland port on surrounding communities, will be created by SB112.
- The penalty for bigamy between consenting adults has been dropped from a felony — punishable to up to five years in prison — to an infraction in hopes of driving victims of abuse in polygamist communities out of the shadows to get aid under SB102. Penalties for crimes committed in concert with bigamy like sexual abuse and domestic violence have been enhanced.
- Children 11 years old and younger will no longer be prosecuted for crimes through HB262, with exceptions for serious offenses like murder, aggravated arson, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.
- By next January, the state should have in place a pilot program for obtaining an electronic driver’s license or ID card under SB110. The process is to be permanent by January 2022. Under SB168, an electronic driver’s license can be used to rent a vehicle.
- The Governor’s Office of Economic Development will be required to hire a nonprofit or government entity to act as a facilitator for public-private partnerships in the state under SB133, “with the goal of moving the state to the forefront throughout the country in the area of private participation in public infrastructure development.”
- HB100 enacts the Veterans Treatment Court Act, which addresses domestic violence offenses and eligibility for participation in the court.
- Pharmacists will be able to dispense an emergency supply of insulin of up to 30 days under HB207. Insulin copayments will also be capped at $30 per month, unless insurers place the treatment in their lowest-cost drug tier, waiving deductibles.
- Health care providers will be required to either bury or cremate aborted or miscarried fetal remains under SB67, A woman will also receive a form asking how she wants the remains to be taken care of, however, she can choose not to select a method if she wishes.
- Abortion will be banned in Utah, except in cases of rape, incest, life-threatening health issues for the mother or if the fetus has lethal or severe birth defects under SB174. The ban will occur only if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
- The Wasatch Front will see several new crisis centers where people experiencing mental health episodes in need of emergency care can go instead of being sent to hospital emergency rooms or jail cells under HB32.
- About 30 mothballed beds will be opened at the Utah State Hospital in hopes of freeing up beds currently occupied in the state’s prison and jail systems under HB35 — this will provide mentally ill individuals with medical care rather than stick them in prison due to lack of space.
- Mosquito abatement districts must provide public notice of pesticide treatments through a website or other social media platforms under SB64.
- A registered nurse would be able to make a determination of death in some cases, under SB70.
- Teledentistry is permitted by SB135, including providing appropriate preventive or urgent prescriptions.
- SB207 provides state employees who give birth with three weeks of paid leave at their full salary, on top of any sick leave used.
- The Children’s Hearing Aid Program will service more individuals as its repeal date is extended with HB13.
- Knowingly entering false or misleading information on a medical record or altering a medical record to conceal a circumstance related to the health care of a patient has been added as a provision to each health care profession’s definition of unprofessional conduct under HB24.
- HB323 sets standards for the Utah schools that offer students mental health screenings and will require written parental consent before a student can participate.
My quality of life
- With SB59, Utah will shift to daylight saving time year-round if at least four Western states also make the change and Congress gives its approval.
- Utahns seeking a vanity license plate will face slightly tightened restrictions under SB97, which says requests should be denied when they disparage a group based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship status, physical or mental disability and sex.
- Water will be “banked” under SB26, which creates a 10-year pilot project seen as a way for voluntary participants to have more flexibility in sharing water resources to help agriculture and the environment.
- There’s $10 million for affordable housing under SB39, down from the $35 million initially sought. The money is intended to provide rental assistance as well as to help build affordable housing units to keep Utahns from becoming homeless.
- The state will partner with PacifiCorp on a $50 million planned buildout of electric vehicle charging network infrastructure with HB396, and the Utah Department of Transportation will come up with a plan to ensure there are charging stations at least every 50 miles along Utah freeways by the end of 2025 under HB259.
- $50,000 was invested in a pilot voluntary program to inform homebuyers and sellers in polluted parts of the state about an individual residence’s home energy performance under HB235.
- A working group will come up with recommendations on the best way to counter water loss from systems by updating a 2002 study on a possible diversion of Green River water below Flaming Gorge for delivery to expanding Utah cities with HB328.
- The Utah Board of Regents must study ways to improve campus safety and report recommendations back to lawmakers under SB80, building on legislation passed last year after the murder of University of Utah student athlete Lauren McCluskey in 2018.
- Individuals found guilty of sex trafficking are now required to register as a sex offender under HB291, which will also require new police officers to go through training in spotting and responding to human trafficking.
- SB165 requires local homeless coordinating councils to ready emergency response plans to deal with conditions that pose a risk to the health or safety of homeless individuals and families, such as winter weather.
- Making a threat, whether real or a hoax, against schools is a crime with HB171.
- The attorney general’s office and Department of Public Safety will create and coordinate the operation of a joint strike force to combat criminal activity that has the potential of striking a negative impact on the Utah economy under HB461.
- Drivers will now have up to two weeks to show needed repairs have been made after being citied by law enforcement for issues or after being in an accident, under SB31, which extend the time period for proving their vehicles are in compliance from five days.
- Financial institutions such as a bank, trust company or credit union will be permitted to delay certain transactions made by a vulnerable adult when they believe the individual is being financially exploited under HB459.
- The minimum age for delivery drivers drops from 19 to 18 years old in SB142.
- HB247 extends the statute of limitations on unlawful sexual activity with a minor and unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old after the victim turns 18 from four to 10 years.
- HB213 clarifies when consent may be given or withdrawn for sexual activity and emphasizes consent to a prior sexual act between any party does not constitute consent to any future interactions.
- Criminal penalties can be reduced under SB238 if the offense was committed as a result of cohabitant abuse.
- More information will have to be provided on inmate deaths in county jails under SB240.
- HB84 raises the penalty for passing a school bus displaying flashing lights from $100 to $250 on a first time offense and will also require offenders to carry out community service.
- A task force, formed by HB116, will identify the gaps in local, state and federal enforcement agencies data collection to help murdered and missing indigenous girls and women.
- After a bumpy path forward in which HB222 failed in committee only to be brought back to soar through the remaining legislative bodies, more low-income students will receive breakfast at school under an expanded school breakfast program.
- HB14 clarifies the definition of truancy for a school-age child as occurring when a student is absent for at least half of the school day without a valid excuse. This clarification does not alter parental rights to academic accommodations, rather it will help the State School Board apply a broad definition for truancy that is applicable to all schools in the state, helping them determine if interventions are successful.
- There is $5 million available to fund “deep technology” projects on campuses in SB96, defined as “technology that leads to new products and innovations based on scientific discovery or meaningful engineering innovation.”
- Another $5 million is set aside to train and mentor new and aspiring public school principals in SB99.
- Regents’ scholarships may now be used at private, nonprofit accredited colleges under SB117.
- There is $10 million available of ongoing funding to support enhanced kindergarten early intervention programs statewide with HB99.
- Utah companies will be allowed to partner with higher education institutions to target needs within the workforce and create apprenticeship programs to fill those gaps through HB68.
- Oil refineries that had not signed up previously to produce Tier 3 fuel can still get a tax break under SB239.
- Utah drivers will be able to opt out of certain disclosures to the University of Utah for data collection and remove some of their personal identifying information from the university’s database under HB183, which also requires the Driver License Division to inform license applicants about the personal information disclosure.
- Parents can legally abandon their newborn children at a hospital up to 30 days after the baby’s birth with HB97 — an extension of Utah’s previous drop-off window of 72-hours.
- The penalty for stealing mail has been changed to a third-degree felony under HB433, however, if a person steals mail that contains more than 10 people’s personal identifying information the penalty can increase to a second-degree felony.
- Alcohol manufacturers will be prohibited from promoting aspects of high-alcohol content with HB399. Law enforcement officers will also be allowed to ask where a vehicle operator arrested for drunken driving obtained the alcohol and make it easier for an individual to purchase a bar license from an existing club owner.
- If and when they arrive in Utah, autonomous delivery robots will be limited to speeds of 10 mph in areas shared with pedestrians and 20 mph on roads under HB277, which will also require operators to carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance should the robots experience a glitch.
- Pornographic material must carry a label warning about the harmful effects if could have on minors under HB243 — individuals who distribute or public pornographic material with the intent to profit off their actions may also be sued for each violation.
- Counties can impose a tax of up to 7% on all short-term rentals of off-highway and recreational vehicles under SB216.
- Utahns can order wine from out-of-state producers under HB157, which will allow for wine of the month clubs, though products will be delivered to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control instead of directly to customers.
Corrections: An earlier version incorrectly stated the penalty for stealing mail had been lowered from a second-degree felony. The changed law classifies mail theft as a third-degree felony unless more than 10 people’s information is stolen, in which case the penalty can be a second-degree felony. Also, an earlier version said Utah had a new “homeless czar” with the passage of SB244. The bill did not create a new position but redefined the duties of an existing position.