To power us all through the final week of the Legislative Session, here are some tidbits of GOOD news for our allies, supporters and friends: great bills that have been moving!
These bills have passed all through the legislative process without TOO much fanfare, but they will make a real difference in the lives of Utahns. They have been sent along to Governor Herbert’s desk to await his signature.
The following bills may not make it all the way through the legislative process by midnight on Thursday night, but we’re thrilled with the warm welcome they have received so far!
- HB460, “School Resource Officers and School Administrators Training and Agreement,” from Rep. Sandra Hollins. Racially Just Utah and the ACLU of Utah worked closely with Rep. Hollins to draft this bill, which would require better training and contracting for police officers who work in our schools. HB460 received support from community activists, education leaders, law enforcement…even Utah GOP President James Evans! Introduced late in the session (just this week!), the bill sailed through its committee hearing with many positive endorsements and comments – then received a near-unanimous vote on the House floor the next morning (just one Representative didn’t vote “yes”…but only because he was absent).
- HB338, “Juneteenth Holiday Observation,” from Rep. Sandra Hollins. The sad defeat of SB170, “Indigenous Peoples Day,” received a lot of attention – and deservedly so. Some of the comments from elected officials were not very respectful of the experience of indigenous and native peoples, with regard to their historical relationship with Christopher Columbus (Utah still celebrates Columbus Day). But Rep. Hollins’ bill, which would see the important African-American independence celebration of Juneteenth officially observed on the third Saturday of every June, has passed through the process without much objection at all. HB338 received overwhelming support in the House, and is now awaiting a Senate vote!
- SB189, “Death Penalty Amendments,” from Sen. Steve Urquhart. This is the surprise hit of the Legislative Session so far! Not many people expected to see a bill to repeal the death penalty in Utah – but among those who believed in this effort was the ACLU of Utah and our abolitionist allies. Our state got national attention when the repeal bill actually cleared the Utah Senate, and our efforts have received great support from national partners like Equal Justice USA, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, the Death Penalty Information Center, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Hard to say whether this bill will clear the House of Representatives, as well. We have high hopes, however, and nothing but praise for our sponsors, Sen. Steve Urquhart of Saint George and Rep. Eric Hutchings of Kearns.