From the Hill: Week two of the Legislative session

Photo by Christian Anderson

Photo by Christian Anderson

Ryan LaRe is a senior political science major and former intern in the House Democratic caucus.

When every week feels like 10, here’s what happened this week at the Utah State Capitol.

This week started (and ended) with protests against President Donald Trump’s recent immigration ban. Governor Herbert and Lt. Governor Spencer Cox have been critics of the executive order, while most of Utah’s congressional delegation offered lukewarm criticism of the order for being too broad or poorly rolled out.

Rep. Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan) is bringing back HB154, which died in the Senate last session. While this bill regulates telehealth (a resource for rural communities), it also includes an odd restriction of abortion care. The bill prohibits “chemical abortion” via telehealth. Now, “chemical abortion” in layman terms is a “medical abortion”—a.k.a. the morning after pill and mifeprex. Currently, no health care provider is performing “chemical abortions” via telehealth in the state. For some reason, this bill was heard in the Public Utilities, Energy and Technology committee. The bill passed out of committee and is up for consideration in the full House.

Rep. Angela Romero’s (D-Salt Lake City) HB200, which requires the testing of all sexual assault kits within 30 days, passed out of committee and is due to be considered by the full House. The committee hearing was touching, with most representatives recognizing Romero’s work on this issue for the past five years.

Rep. Cory Maloy’s (R-Lehi) HB259 is essentially “stand your ground” legislation. Yes, the same type of legislation that found George Zimmerman not guilty of the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012. This bill says that even if a person’s safety could be achieved by retreating, they are not required to do so and further requires that prosecution can’t suggest a person who refused to retreat acted unreasonably. The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee.

The House Republicans passed HB11, which would eliminate requirements for a bipartisan makeup on state boards. Only eight House Republicans joined the 13 Democrats in voting against the bill, which is now under consideration by the Senate.

Rep. Kim Coleman’s (R-West Jordan) HB54, titled “Campus Free Speech Amendments,” is currently in the Judiciary Committee. Coleman contests that this bill would allow students to have free speech on college campuses. However, the bill permits verbal harassment by students to go unpunished by educational institutions. In an interview with the Libertas Institute, Coleman said “harassment is in the eye of beholder.” Whatever that means.

It’s a CON-CON! Constitutional convention, that is. The house passed HJR3 to call for a new constitutional convention where amendments aimed to rein in our tyrannical federal government are added to the US Constitution. Rep. Sandra Hollins (D-Salt Lake City/Rose Park), Utah’s first African-American woman to serve in the Utah State Legislature, said, "It will be a convention of the rich and the powerful. That's not who I represent."

Gov. Gary Herbert signed HCR11, calling on Trump to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument. All House and Senate Democrats voted against this resolution, joined by two Republicans in the House and Senate.

Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross), who pioneered the “porn is a public health crisis” legislation last year, has a bill (SB 82) that would require porn blockers on library computers. The bill passed out of committee. Sen. Weiler also has bill request, still unnumbered and unpublished, titled “Cause of Action for Minors Injured by Pornography.

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield) has a bill that allows for people ages 18 to 20 to receive a “provisional concealed carry permit.” Because why not? Currently, individuals in Utah must be 21 to have a concealed carry permit. The bill passed out of committee with a 10-0-2 vote (10 for, 0 against, 2 absent).