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Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

2009 Utah Legislative Report

19 March 2014 Published in Legislative Reports

Although it was reported that the 2009 legislative session was “productive and successful”, we at ACLU of Utah were very disappointed in the lack of opportunity for meaningful discussion of the issues and concerns many of the bills raised as they were rushed through the legislative process.

Voting Rights | Reproductive Freedoms | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Rights
Immigration
| Real ID | Gangs: Racial Profiling | Open Government | Courts

Voting Rights

Our work centered on improving and preventing unnecessary barriers on a person’s right to vote because of voter challenges or requiring proof of identification. But the legislature pushed through further restrictions without really considering the consequences.

Bill Would Have Prevented Unreasonable Challenges to a Voter’s Eligibility


H.B. 49 "Voter Challenge Amendments" - This bill, drafted by the ACLU of Utah, would have modified the way in which voter eligibility could be challenged. Election workers would have retain the ability to challenge voter eligibility at the polls on Election Day, but other challenges would have to have been lodged in writing with the County Clerk, 30 days in advance of an election. This bill was in response to voter complaints and our investigation into election irregularities in Ogden’s 2007 municipal election. The bill passed the House but died in the Senate Rules Committee.

Read the ACLU of Utah letter supporting H.B. 49 (PDF)>>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Law Creates Barriers to Voting


H.B. 126S02 "Voter Identification for Elections" - This law requires that all voters present a Photo ID, or, two specified pieces of evidence indicating the person’s name and place of residency, before being allowed to cast a ballot. The ACLU of Utah objected to the passage of the bill because it creates barriers for the poor, elderly and disabled, and homeless; all who lack the necessary identification. Our position is that this bill disenfranchises legitimate voters. We have expressed our concerns to the Governor. The Governor signed this bill into law on 3/20/09.

Read the ACLU of Utah Action Alert opposing H.B. 126S02 >>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Bill would have Disenfranchised Voters from Exercising Their Right to Vote


S.B. 69S01 "Proof of Citizenship Required to Vote" - This bill would have required proof of citizenship when registering to vote for the fist time in Utah, or to be shown to the poll worker at the time of voting. ACLU of Utah opposed this bill because again it would disenfranchise legitimate voters. There is no evidence that non-citizens are voting in elections. The spirit of the bill is not really to protect the voting process but rather to prevent certain populations from participating in the process.

Read the ACLU of Utah letter opposing S.B. 69 (PDF) >>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action



Reproductive Freedoms

We worked in conjunction with our allies to try to prevent the legislature’s further incursion into and interference in the private and protected relationship between the patient and her physician.

Law has a Chilling Effect and Interferes with the Physician/Patient Relationship


H.B. 222 "Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act" - This law requires that prior to performing an abortion of a fetus of 20 weeks gestational age or later, a physician must provide information to the woman regarding using an anesthetic to alleviate fetal pain. The ACLU of Utah was concerned because of the government interference with the private medical relationship between a woman and her physician. The Governor signed this bill into law on 3/20/09.

Read the ACLU of Utah fact sheet on H.B. 222 and H.B. 90 (PDF) >>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Law Threatens Reproductive Freedom


H.B. 90S01 "Abortion Law Amendments" - This law imposes a post-viability ban on abortions in Utah, creating criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions in violation of the law with some few exceptions. The definition of "viable" is constitutionally questionable and has never been upheld by the Supreme Court in the context of a ban on abortions. The Supreme Court has always maintained that viability should be determined by physicians not by the legislature. Nor should physicians be exposed to criminal liability for their role in working with families to make difficult decision about their health. The Governor signed this bill into law on 3/20/09.

Read the ACLU of Utah fact sheet on H.B. 222 and H.B. 90 (PDF) >>

Read the ACLU of Utah letter to Governor Huntsman asking for his veto of H.B. 222

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action



Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Rights

The following bills were introduced as the "Common Ground Initiative". They all failed to be passed out of the committees to which they were assigned. ACLU of Utah is very concerned by the lack of any real consideration by the legislators of the underlying issues of equality for all persons under the law.

Bill Would Have Protected LGBT Employees and Tenants


H.B. 267 Antidiscrimination Amendments - This bill had two aspects, first it would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that employers may not consider when making decisions about employment. Secondly, the bill would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that landlords may not consider when making decisions about eviction. Utah law currently provides no protection for LGBT individuals who are evicted from their homes or fired from their employment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Bill Would Have Allowed LGBT Partners’ Rights in Wrongful Death Situations


S.B. 32 Wrongful Death Amendments - This bill would have expanded the definition of heirs to include a wrongful death heir, designated in the will, trust, or directive, and adjudicated by the court to have had a mutual supportive and dependent relationship with the decedent.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Bill Would Have Promoted Equality in Adoption


H.B. 288 Utah Adoption Amendment - Although this bill was not part of the Common Ground Initiative, it was lumped in with the other bills by the “anti-gay” contingent in the legislature. The bill attempted to remove the limitation on adoption or fostering of children by cohabiting, unrelated, unmarried adults, establishing that the best interest of the child standard would be used in deciding placement for adoption. This bill never made it out of Committee despite powerful testimony as to the benefit this bill would have for the many children in foster care. It was another example of the legislature’s refusing to consider the real underlying issue; the large number of Utah children in foster care.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action



Immigration

In tracking the Immigration bills introduced this year, our main goal was to work with our coalition partners to delay the implementation of SB 81 scheduled for July of this year on the grounds of federal preemption. Both delay bills failed.

Bill Would Have Delayed Implementation of Controversial Immigration Law


S.B. 113 Delayed Effective Date for Illegal Immigration Legislation - This bill would have delayed the implementation of SB 81 for one year pending federal comprehensive immigration reform under the new administration. The bill spent most of the legislative session in Senate Rules and upon its release to the Senate Education Committee it was defeated in a 3 to 3 vote, despite the testimony almost solely in support the Bill.

Read the ACLU of Utah letter supporting S.B. 113 (PDF) >>

Read the info sheet on S.B. 81 (PDF) >>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Bill Would Have Delayed Implementation of SB 81 to Study Economic Effects


H.B. 107S02 Economic Impact of Illegal Aliens - This bill requested a year extension for the implementation of SB 81 in order to do a study as to the effect undocumented workers have on Utah’s economy but it failed to come out of Senate Rules Committee.

Read the info sheet on S.B. 81 (PDF) >>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Bill Creates State Task Force that Could Lead to Racial Profiling


H.B. 64 Deterring Illegal Immigration - This law authorizes the Attorney General to administer and coordinate the operation of a multi-agency strike task force to combat violent and other “major crimes” associated with illegal immigration and human trafficking. The ACLU of Utah opposed the bill because the evidence from the similar federal program is that law enforcement spent a lot of money to go after undocumented immigrants without criminal backgrounds rather than violent or major criminals. Our concern is that this task force will have similar results. The Governor signed this bill into law on 3/20/09.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Bill Would Have Threatened Tuition for Some State Residents


H.B. 208 Modification of Exemption from Nonresident Tuition - This bill would have required undocumented state university students to sign an affidavit stating that they would not work without authorization. If they did, they would lose their ability to attend school. We argued that federal statutes already covered working without authorization and this was just a way to take away undocumented student’s right to attend college. With the hard work of all of our coalition members this bill was defeated!

Read the ACLU of Utah's talking points (PDF) >>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action



Real ID

The National ACLU office and its affiliates, including the ACLU of Utah, have lead the campaign against Real ID Act and its attempt to create a National Identity Card

ACLU Bill Would Have Protected Privacy


H.B. 325: Opting Out of the Real ID Act - Because of concerns for privacy around the creation of one central database in the U.S., we helped draft and support this bill to have Utah join 21 other states to opt out of compliance with the federal Real ID Act and its requirements. The Bill passed out of the House but died in the Senate Rules Committee.

Read a letter by the ACLU of Utah supporting H.B. 325 (PDF) >>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action



Gangs: Racial Profiling

Many of the issues this session had to do with Gang bills and the ACLU of Utah supported those bills that went beyond enforcement only to look at rectifying the problem as a whole.

Law May Lead to Racial Profiling of Young People by Law Enforcement


S.B. 16 Prohibited Gang Activities - This law targets gang loitering. The law allows police officers to give dispersal orders to individuals whom they “reasonably believe” to be gang members who are present in locations which are defined as "anti-gang" loitering zones. If police orders are not followed, arrests and criminal charges can follow. ACLU of Utah is concerned that the law’s vagueness will lead to racial profiling. The Governor signed this bill into law on 3/20/09.

Read the ACLU of Utah letter opposing S.B. 16 (PDF) >>

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Bill Would Have Offered Alternatives to Schools to Deal With Gangs


S.B. 74 At-Risk Student Provisions - This bill would have required local school boards to enact gang prevention and intervention policies including having faculty and staff trained by community gang specialists to recognize early warning signs for youth in trouble and help students resist serious involvement as well as get the involvement of parents. ACLU of Utah was supportive of this bill because it offers alternatives to an enforcement only policy.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Bill Would Have Urged Collaborative Community Approach to Gangs


S.J.R. 21 Joint Resolution on Combating and Reducing Gang Activity - This joint resolution of the Legislature urged state and local governments to work together to reduce gang activity by taking a comprehensive, collaborative, and community wide approach to combat and reduce the impact of gangs. Again, we supported this resolution because it was a solution that was more than enforcement only.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

 

Open Government

We worked with a very strong media coalition which was able to finally kill this bill in the last moments of the legislative session.

Bill Would Have Created More Barriers for Public Access to Records


H.B. 122 Government Records Access Amendments - This bill set out that records, work product, and government’s strategy were all protected if they were created in anticipated of, or as a result of pending litigation. It also restricted the requisite balancing test by the courts.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action



Courts

The ACLU of Utah was concerned with the legislature’s limiting the public’s access to the Court.

Bill Would Have Created Barriers to Environmental Groups Filing Lawsuits


H.B. 379 Environmental Litigation Bond - This bill required a plaintiff to post a bond before receiving a preliminary injunction or administrative stay and if unsuccessful to pay damages to the defendant who is harmed by the injunction.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action

Constitutional Amendment Resolution Would Have Made it Harder to Appeal Death Sentences


S.J.R. 14 Joint Resolution Challenging the Legality of a Conviction or Sentence - This resolution sought to amend the Utah Constitution to limit the post conviction appeal process for those facing the death penalty.

ACLU of Utah's Position Final Legislative Action