Jan 16, 2024 - News

5 things to know about Utah's 2024 legislative session

Illustration of the Utah State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Tuesday is the first day of Utah's 45-day legislative session.

Here are five things to know about the 2024 legislative session:

1. A fourth straight year of tax cuts

What's happening: Utah Republicans are eying another tax break by slashing the state income tax rate from 4.65% to 4.55%.

The latest: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox supports eliminating the state's income tax altogether, he remarked at an annual Utah Taxpayers Association conference this month.

  • But the proposal isn't popular among some Democrats and education advocates, who say the revenue could fund public education and needed social services.

2. Previous legislation in legal limbo

Context: A number of high-profile bills passed by the state Legislature in the past two years are being battled in the courts, including a statewide ban on abortion clinics and a measure prohibiting transgender girls from competing on school sports teams that match their gender identity.

What to watch: The outcomes of these court cases could determine state lawmakers' priorities this session and beyond.

3. Attorney general's office under a magnifying glass

Context: Scrutiny over Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' campaign spending and association with embattled Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard have put Reyes in fellow Republicans' crosshairs.

Between the lines: There's an appetite among some in the GOP to sponsor legislation that would make Utah's attorney general position an appointed post requiring Senate confirmation, rather than an elected one.

What we're watching: The outcome of the legislative audit into Reyes' office requested by Republicans.

4. 2024 elections take shape

Context: A number of state lawmakers are facing intra-party challengers this election year, raising their profile for this session.

Why it matters: The Republican-dominated state Legislature is slated to debate controversial bills targeting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts in higher education and the rights of transgender Utahns.

5. Bullet-proofing Utah's social media restrictions

What's happening: Republicans plan to tweak Utah's pending age-verification law, which would prohibit minors from using social media platforms without their parents' consent, to ensure the new rules survive legal scrutiny.

Catch up quick: NetChoice, a trade group representing Meta and other social media companies, filed a lawsuit challenging the law in December. The group argues the law violates the free speech rights of children and adults.

Flashback: A federal judge temporarily blocked a similar law from taking effect in Arkansas last year after NetChoice sued.

What they're saying: "We're working with the [social media] companies, letting them know that there will be some changes made and then they can decide whether they want to continue with those lawsuits after those changes are made," Cox told Axios during a pre-session interview last Friday.

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