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From the Hill: Week one 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.

The session started with over 6,000 folks braving a blizzard on Jan. 23 to fill the Capitol for the Women’s March..

Rep. Norm Thurston (R) from Provo has a bill which removes the bipartisan makeup of a few key committees. Democrats and “good government” watchdogs decry this bill as expanding the power of the predominant state party. This bill is currently circled, meaning it’s waiting for full consideration by the House. The bill will stay on the board until a representative motions to “uncircle” it—meaning it could be there forever and not get voted on or could be voted on in a moment’s notice.

HB 141, which would force abortion providers to tell patients that medical abortions can be reversed, has received resistance from the medical community for its scientific legitimacy.

Speaker Greg Hughes (R) (who was recently indicted in public testimony in the criminal case against Former Attorney General John Swallow) is pushing a resolution that calls on President Trump to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument. House Democrats pointed out on Twitter that it appeared the supporters of the Monument didn’t show up. From @rchouck: “Am hoping #BearsEars supporters caught the agenda. No one opposing has raised their hand.”

Senator Ipson’s (R) “Protection of Law Enforcement Officers’ Personal Information” bill, which makes it a crime to share the contact information of police officers (and their families) on social media, sailed through the Senate 24-0-5 (five not voting/absent) and is now on its way to the House.

Rep. Arent (D) has a bill (HB 204) to allocate funds for a presidential primary. Say goodbye to those long caucus lines if it passes.

Sorry, folks. Medical marijuana won’t be debated this session. Instead, activists are planning a ballot initiative.

Rep. Cutler (R) has a bill (HB 221) which mandates all ballots be counted within three days of the election. Cutler narrowly won his last two elections against democrat Christine Passey, who won against Cutler on election night in the preliminary results (both times) and lost in the final canvas two weeks later (both times).

Rep. Duckworth (D) has a bill (HB 71) which removes the state tax on hygiene products (tampons, diapers, etc.). Her bill is probably dead on arrival because of its huge fiscal note. However, the rural tax credit bill (HB 219) is expected to pass without a problem.

The two most senior members in the House chamber are both women and democrats.

Rep. Eliason (R) has a bill (HB 12) that would require counties to notify voters if their mail-in ballot was rejected. HB 12 smoothed through the House with a 74-0 vote. Expect this to become law.

Gov. Gary Herbert mentioned his support for the removal of the Zion Curtain in his State of the State address. The bill is being sponsored by members in the Republican leadership. If this bill dies, expect it to die in the Senate.

Rep. Romero’s (D) HB 200 would require the testing of all rape kits in the state. Utah currently has a backlog of roughly 1,000 rape kits yet to be tested. Some police groups are worried there won’t be enough funding to comply with the bill.

Minority Leader Brian King (D) has “modified” his comprehensive sex education bill from last session in hopes of garnering more support. HB 215 would allow for parents to receive the same education as their children and is opt-in. However, conservative groups already hate it.

Utah will likely start a commission to see how to operate and fund a 24/7 suicide crisis hotline in the state. (SB37)

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