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Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

Week 4: Updates from the Utah Legislative Session

03 March 2017 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist

This weekly compilation is assembled from social media postings by our communications and policy staff during the fourth week of the 2017 Utah Legislative Session. LegisBlogWeek2017 4

 These posts have been updated a bit for brevity, and, in some cases, to remove the urgent calls for action that accompanied them in the moment they were posted! Thanks to all our followers and supporters who took action and helped raise a collective voice for civil liberties in Utah. The most recent posts from the week are included first, moving backward in time toward the oldest, which were posted at the beginning of the fourth week.

FEBRUARY 16 >>

What we're following on the Hill today:

HB54, "Campus Free Speech Amendment," a solid free speech bill from Rep. Kim Coleman (R-West Jordan), being heard in this morning in House Judiciary; ACLU of Utah supports!

HB259, "Duty to Retreat Amendments," an unnecessary "stand your ground"-type bill from Rep. Cory Maloy (R-Lehi), being heard this morning in House Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice; ACLU of Utah opposes.

HB285, "Voter Registration Amendments," an excellent voting access bill from Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake), being heard this afternoon in House Government Operations; ACLU of Utah supports!

BAD BILL ON THE MOVE! HB176, "Human Trafficking Amendments," sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clearfield) is on the House reading calendar and will likely be heard this week. Don't be fooled by the bill's name - this bill isn't about human trafficking, it's REALLY about perpetuating the myth that the death penalty does anything to deter crime or solve complex and tragic social issues. Human trafficking is a terrible crime - and victims need support, compassion and resources, not some inconclusive and vague promise of justice that will never come.

UPDATES: HB176 was eventually heard the following week, when it barely squeaked off the House Floor with a 38-37 vote. HB285 sadly did not pass out of committee. HB259 received a favorable vote from the House Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice Committee. HB54 received a unanimous favorable committee vote, and eventually passed its House floor vote, too.

FEBRUARY 14 >>

Guess what's back...back again...

HB154, "Telehealth Amendments," by Rep. Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan) will be heard AGAIN in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee today, at 2:00 p.m. This bill was held yesterday morning, for the sponsor to continue to tinker with language. Surprisingly, during yesterday's hearing, Rep. Ivory revealed a substitute version of the bill, which doubled down on the medication-induced abortion restrictions in his original bill. Now, HB154 does not even make an exception for medication-induced abortions to be prescribed via telemedicine services in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the woman. This bill just keeps getting worse. We'll keep you posted if and when it moves from committee to the Senate Floor. Utah is moving quickly toward litigation on this issue, unless Senators wisely step in and put an end to this nonsense.

Likely to be voted on this morning in the State House of Reps: HB178, "Good Landlord Program Amendments," sponsored by Rep. Brian King (D-Salt Lake). This bill would end the practice of cities coercing landlords to REJECT otherwise qualified tenants based on their criminal history. We love this bill!

UPDATES: HB154, "Telehealth Amendments," was successfully amended in a Senate Committee to remove the lines that restricted doctors' ability to prescribe medication for early stage abortions via telemedicine services! HB178, " Good Landlord Program Amendments," overwhelmingly passed on the House floor this morning, thought it was altered by a fairly silly amendment pushed by representatives from Ogden. HB298, "Free Expression Regulation by Local Government," a good bill that will seek to stop cities from arbitrarily restricting free speech activities, passed out of a House Committee unanimously!

FEBRUARY 13 >>

Very busy morning for the ACLU of Utah up on the Hill! We've got bills all over committees, on a variety of topics:

HB154, "Telehealth Amendments," (Rep. Ken Ivory), which includes a nasty little provision barring doctors practicing telemedicine from prescribing a medication-induced abortion via that medium. We are testifying AGAINST HB154 in Senate Health & Human Services.

HB298, "Free Expression Regulation by Local Government," (Rep. Norm Thurston), which would require municipalities to have clearly defined Time-Place-Manner ordinances related to free speech demonstrations, was born out of unfortunate incidents in the past couple of years where cities halted petitioning and other activities on public property. We are testifying IN SUPPORT OF HB298 in House Political Subdivisions!

HB242, "Family and Medical Leave Amendments," (Rep. Dixon Pitcher), would ensure that more Utah workers have access to family and medical leave time to care for loved ones. We are SUPPORTING HB242, and our Utah Women's Coalition partners will be testifying in support in House Economic Development and Workforce Services.

UPDATES: All three of the bills we mentioned were amended and held in their respective committees until further notice.

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