Ryan LaRe is a senior political science major and former intern in the House Democratic caucus.
Following his packed, chaotic and divisive town-hall meeting, Rep. Jason Chaffetz dismissed constituents and protesters as paid, out-of-state radicals. However, Rep. Marie Poulson (D-Cottonwod Heights), the state representative over the area where he held his town hall, told the Deseret News that she has heard similar concerns from constituents about Chaffetz’s performance. So, there’s that. But onto our state legislature.
Both chairs of the Utah Democratic and Republican parties supported Rep. Patrice Arent’s bill (HB 204) in committee. The bill would require the state to hold a presidential primary instead of having state parties conduct their own caucuses and now goes to the full House for consideration.
Rep. Lynn Hemingway’s HB147 would raise Utah’s minimum wage to $10.25 in July and to $15 by 2022. The bill exempts employers with fewer than 25 employees and raises the tipping wage to $5 an hour. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee on Tuesday.
Rep. Ken Ivory has a bill (HB207) that would use $350,000 in public funds to educate state legislators on concepts of federalism (the shared and specific powers and responsibilities between the states and federal government) every two years. The bill passed out of committee and is under consideration by the full House.
Rep. Susan Duckworth’s HB71—which exempts hygiene products, including tampons and diapers, from state taxes—was rejected in committee for the second year in a row. The vote was along party lines 10 to 2. However, unlike last session, where the all-male committee rejected the bill, this session the lone Republican woman on the committee, Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, also voted against it.
Rep. Sandra Hollins’s “Ban the Box” bill (HB156), which would ban employers in the state from including a “check this box if you’ve ever been convicted” requirement on applications, passed out of committee and is due to be considered by the full House.
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck’s HB76, which would have allowed for physician-assisted suicide, or “death with dignity,” died without dignity in committee.
Sen. Todd Weiler’s SB185, which would open up civil lawsuits against porn companies if children view their explicit content, passed out of committee and is due to be considered by the full Senate.
After a marathon committee hearing, both Rep. Brian King’s HB215—which would have provided opt-in comprehensive sexual education in schools—and Rep. Keven Stratton’s HB 137—which would allow for schools to make abuse prevention courses opt-in—failed to proceed. HB215 was voted down along party lines and HB137 is being held in committee.
Rep. Norman Thurston’s HB155, which would lower the legal blood alcohol content limit for DUI’s from 0.08 to 0.05—which would make it the toughest DUI law in the country—advanced out of committee and is due to be considered by the full House.
Rep. Brian King’s HB206, “Domestic Violence—Weapons Restrictions,” passed out of committee unanimously. The bill restricts individuals “subject to a protective order or child protective order; […] and who has been convicted of assault or aggravated assault against a cohabitant from obtaining a concealed carry permit.” The bill is due to be considered by the full House.
HB141, which requires abortion providers to give what critics call medically inaccurate information about “abortion reversal” to patients, passed out of committee with a vote along party lines. The bill is due to be considered by the full House.
Point of information: Interested in following the progress of any of the above-mentioned legislation? Or perhaps other legislation is tickling your fancy? You can track bills and have updates sent to your email through le.utah.gov. Click on bills on the left-hand side and go to “tracking services” and you’ll be notified when a bill is on the agenda to be heard in committee or debated on the house floor.