From the Hill: Week five of the Legislature

Photo by Christian Anderson

Photo by Christian Anderson

Well, another week passed at the Utah Legislature—aging us about three months. Here are some of last week’s highlights:

Rep. Sandra Hollins’ (D) HB156, which would “ban the box” in the state, advanced out of the House in a 40 to 32 vote. This type of legislation would prevent employers from asking an applicant to disclose a past criminal conviction on a job application. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Rep. Justin Fawson’s (R) HB369—which would criminalize failure to disclose positive HIV/AIDS status before sexual contact as rape—passed through a House committee, though critics fear the bill will further stigmatize HIV/AIDS and result in fewer folks getting tested.

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee’s (R) HB198—which allows for Utahns to acquire a concealed carry gun permit at age 18—passed through the House after Rep. Kim Coleman shared her personal testimony on the House floor of being attacked in an attempted rape at the age of 19. Coleman said she believes the best way to prevent rape is having a gun. Many House Democrats, however, disputed the claim that guns will make folks safer.

A House committee also brought back a bill that was believed previously to be dead. Rep. Lee Perry’s (R) HB237—which would allow for permit free concealed carry, was approved by a House committee after being rejected the week before. This time, Perry argues that HB237 will help folks threatened by domestic violence.  

House Minority Leader Brian King’s HB 206—which prevents individuals subject to a protective order or previously convicted of assault from purchasing a gun—passed through the House unanimously.

The House approved a bill, HB176, expanding the death penalty to instances where homicide occurred via human trafficking. The bill passed in a 38 to 37 vote and will now be considered by the Senate.

Senator Stuart Adams (R) hopes SB196 will provide a legislative fix to a lawsuit from Equality Utah against the state’s ban advocating homosexuality in schools. Although SB196 does not affirm homosexuality as valid way of being or living, the bill does remove the portions of law that forbid its discussion in classrooms. The bill passed out of committee and heads now to the full Senate for consideration.

Rep. Ken Ivory’s (R) telehealth bill (HB154) passed unanimously in the Senate after the removal of its anti-abortion-care language. When the bill reached the House, Ivory supported its new form on the floor and it passed through the House unanimously.

The House passed Rep. Norman Thurston’s (R) HB 155, which would lower the legal blood-alcohol content limit for drivers in the state from 0.08 to 0.05 and make Utah the state with the lowest BAC in the country. The bill passed in a 48 to 26 vote and is due for consideration in the Senate.

Though the House previously approved a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention of the States, the Senate rejected the resolution.

A House committee blocked King’s HB384, which would remove the requirement for abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The current Utah law is strikingly similar to a Texas law the Supreme Court found placed an undue burden on access to abortion last year.