SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert signed a special session bill on Thursday to ban Utah police from using a “knee-on-the-neck” restraint like the one a Minneapolis officer used in the death of George Floyd.

The governor signed the bill, HB5007, along with 10 other bills from last week’s special session, which also included a slew of bills to make budgetary cuts and changes to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Utah Legislature last week approved HB5007, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, Utah’s only Black lawmaker, after it won overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, but faced opposition from a handful of House lawmakers who argued that the bill was a “knee-jerk” reaction to something that didn’t and doesn’t happen in Utah.

But to Hollins and most of her other colleagues, HB5007 “sends a very powerful message” from Utah’s Legislature and law enforcement, telling minority communities “we hear you and we’re going to do something about” police violence.

Under HB5007, an officer using knee pressure on someone’s neck or throat could be charged with a third-degree felony. If the knee hold results in serious bodily injury or loss of consciousness, it would be a second-degree felony, and if it results in death, it would be a first-degree felony.

HB5007 also prohibits peace officer training that includes the use of chokeholds or other restraints that may cause unconsciousness. It further would ban training in the use of carotid restraints or other methods that may impede breathing or blood circulation and cause unconsciousness.

Herbert also signed these bills:

  • HB5002, which allows a public body to hold a meeting electronically without an “anchor location” if doing so would pose a substantial risk to the health and safety of those present like a pandemic or an earthquake.
  • HB5003, another COVID-19-related bill that lets a local school board use revenue from a capital levy for a school’s operational expenses for fiscal years starting July 2020 and July 2021.
  • HB5004, which changes the state’s liquor laws to accommodate the new Salt Lake City International Airport.
  • HB5005, which makes technical corrections to Utah’s state code such as making minor wording changes, correcting cross-references, eliminating redundant or obsolete language, and correcting numbering and other errors.
  • HB5006, which modifies workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19 first responders.
  • HB5009, which requires the governor to notify the Legislature within 24 hours of an expenditure or procurement during a pandemic disease emergency if the amount exceeds $2 million or uses federal funds that were granted for the purpose of providing financial assistance to individuals adversely impacted by the states of emergency.
  • SB5001, which reduces the $20 billion state budget set to take effect July 1 to $19.2 billion while increasing spending in “high priority” areas — school funding as well as for Medicaid growth, mental health care, affordable housing and homelessness.
  • SB5002, which modifies a provision of the Utah Procurement Code relating to an evaluation committee’s authority to change scores after having been submitted to the procurement unit.
  • SB5003, which gives Utah governmental agencies immunity against lawsuits if a person contracts COVID-19 in a state-run facility.
  • SB5005, which modifies two housing assistance programs to help renters find or keep housing and to help tenants harmed by COVID-19 who are struggling to pay rent. The bill also freed up $20 million in housing aid for immediate use for those at risk of losing homes. The bill also loosened rules for a program for businesses to apply for, which allow for up to $40 million in rental subsidies.