Mar 1, 2024 - Politics

These Utah bills are on their way to the governor's desk

The Utah State Capitol lit up in the early morning hours.

The Utah State Capitol lit up in morning twilight on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by: Jon G. Fuller/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Utah's 2024 legislative session came to a close Friday night.

The intrigue: State lawmakers gave final approval to a record-breaking 591 bills in the last 45 days — the most in a single session.

  • Here's what's headed to the governor's desk.

💰 State lawmakers voted to approve a $29.4 billion budget bill for fiscal year 2025. Investments include:

  • $1.2 billion for new infrastructure;
  • $832 million for public education;
  • $188 million for higher education;
  • $113 million for law enforcement;
  • $300 million for affordable housing and;
  • $60 million for homeless services

🍄 Psilocybin would be allowed for some medical uses under SB 266, which authorizes health care providers to prescribe it during a trial period that ends in 2027. The bill passed late Friday.

Child abuse reporting options for clergy are clarified in HB 432, which explicitly allows religious leaders to tell police about abusers' confessions.

  • But they still don't have to report confessions under Utah's reporting exemptions. They just can't get in trouble if they waive the exemption.
  • The state's clergy reporting exemption has been controversial in recent years in light of documents that showed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discouraged local bishops from alerting law enforcement to child abuse they were aware of.

💸 The Utah Legislature passed SB 69 to slash the state's income tax rate from 4.65% to 4.55%.

  • It's the fourth straight year state lawmakers have cut state income tax .
  • Both Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Senate President Stuart Adams have expressed the desire to completely eliminate the tax.

🪨 Power companies would have greater freedom to pass certain operating costs to customers under SB 224 — if they use coal.

  • That incentivizes Rocky Mountain Power to keep using the Emery County coal plants it's preparing to close in favor of renewable and nuclear sources.
  • Critics say the measure elevates coal over greener options. Supporters say renewable sources like wind and solar aren't reliable enough to give up on coal.

🚗 Front license plates would no longer be required on vehicles under SB 45, a proposal that passed Thursday.

Parents who were coerced into leaving their families would have a defense to child abandonment charges.

  • HB 467, which passed unanimously, was created to protect parents who want to recover custody after being ejected from polygamous communities, where some leaders have ordered families to split up.

🏒 A hockey stadium and entertainment district downtown could get up to $900 million in public funds after the Senate passed SB 272 amendments Friday, following House approval on Thursday.

  • Between that and HB 562, which frees up the same amount for a baseball stadium development near Fairpark, taxpayers could end up supplying close to $2 billion to the efforts to bring the NHL and MLB to town.
  • Those campaigns are spearheaded, respectively, by Ryan Smith and Gail Miller — two of utah's richest people.

‍💨 Most flavored e-cigarettes would be banned in Utah under SB 61, which lawmakers passed on Friday.

  • Only tobacco or menthol flavors would be permitted.

🚫 The state's ban on licensure for abortion clinics would be repealed under HB 560, which passed the Senate on Friday after success in the House last week. But that doesn't mean Utah's overwhelmingly Republican legislature is pro-abortion.

  • The clinic ban passed last year in an attempt by lawmakers to sidestep the legal battle over the state's abortion ban, which a judge put on hold while lawsuits are pending.
  • But the clinic ban also was blocked in court amid a similar lawsuit, so lawmakers wanted to eliminate it in hopes of speeding up the legal process around the ban on the procedure itself.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include budget numbers.

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