Welcome to the ACLU's coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislative Session
This is where you can read the latest blog entries, track important bills, and get insight on what is happening the Utah Capitol and virtually during the 45-day Legislative Session.
March 15 The Legislative Session is only finished once the ACLU of Utah releases its annual Legislative Wrap-up report. Just kidding. We are actually still waiting on the fate of dozens of bills sitting on Gov. Cox's desk. We are even urging that he veto a few bills. But we still drafted our Annual Review of the session--focusing on 24 priority bills that we worked on. Check it out here: (PDF).
March 8 We tracked 34 bills related to police reform during the 2021 Utah Legislative Session. While the session started with a lot of enthusiasm for cementing these reforms in Utah law, many of the best bills failed to move forward--and others were watered down. Check out the ACLU of Utah's Police Reform Legislation Scorecard... which tells the fate of these 34 bills.
February 25: One of our priority bills, H.B. 290 (Probation and Parole Amendments) is heading for a Senate committee hearing at 4pm, Friday February 26. This bill would stop sending people on probation and parole back to prison for simple mistakes and common struggles. Contact your state Senator to urge them to support HB 290. In other good news, both H.B. 143 (Driver License Suspension Amendments) and H.B. 158 (Juvenile Interrogation Amendments) passed the Senate today and are heading to the Governor's desk for signature to become law.
February 24: Bonus Posting! In this week's episode of "ACLU of Utah (Virtually) On the Hill" we take a deep dive into the story behind H.B. 290 (Probation and Parole Amendments), a new bill that seeks to stop sending Utahns on probation and parole back to prison for simple mistakes and common struggles. In 2020, over 3,500 people in Utah went prison for community supervision violations ... which can include non-criminal technical violations like not having stable housing, being unable to find employment, or struggling with substance dependency. H.B. 290 would transform parole and probation into off-ramps away from prison instead of a long, costly roads back to incarceration.
February 24: The hits just keep coming. Today, a Senate committee blocked the badly mis-named H.B. 302 (Preserving Sports for Female Students) from moving forward. This bill, which would have blocked transgender youth from participating on sports teams in Utah, is gone for the rest of the session. the ACLU of Utah's Marina Lowe testified against this bill in its House hearing, and a legion of activists, medical experts, and concerned parents managed to convince Senators to stall the bill after a 3-hour hearing Wednesday night.
February 23: Even better news. On Friday, the House Health and Human Services Committee blocked H.B. 92 (Medical Practice Amendments), which would have prevented transgender children from accessing medical care in Utah. Many medical providers and activists spoke against the bill at the hearing, including the ACLU of Utah's Marina Lowe.
February 22: Good News. The Utah House unanimously passed H.B. 290 (Probation and Parole Amendments), which seeks to address needlessly sending people on probation and parole to prison for simple mistakes and common struggles. Now we need you to contact your State Senator and ask them to support H.B. 290! We have a convenient form at the Campaign for Smart Justice website to easily find and call your Senator
February 18: The ACLU of Utah is backing H.B. 290 (Probation and Parole Amendments), which seeks to address needlessly sending people on probation and parole to prison for simple mistakes and common struggles. Learn more about this bill at our "Reentry Reform" webpage and how you can contact your representatives to urge them to support HB 290.
February 17: Today, the Utah House voted 50-23 to pass H.B. 302--the transgender youth sports ban. This means the bill will be heading to the Utah Senate, where we have a good chance at stopping it. Now is the time to call and email your Utah State Senator to stop this bill from moving forward. Go to the ACLU of Utah's Stop Hb302 webpage and share this link within your network: https://www.acluutah.org/StopHB302
February 11: This morning the House Education Committee voted 8-6 to pass this bill favorably out of committee [watch the hearing here]. This means H.B. 302 will be debated on the House floor--involving all members of the Utah House of Representatives. The good news is you can lobby lawmakers--including your own representatives--to stop this bill from moving forward. Click HERE to send a message directly to your Utah representative telling them to vote no on H.B. 302
February 10: ACTION ALERT On Tuesday night we learned that the grossly mis-named #HB302 (Preserving Sports for Female Students), a bill that would block transgender youth from participating on sports teams in Utah, is scheduled for its first hearing on Thursday morning at the House Education Committee. Sign up for the ACLU of Utah's Legislative Action Alerts to learn how you can work to block this terrible bill.
February 9: The latest episode of ACLU of Utah (Virtually) on the Hill is released. This week we check with Marina Lowe to find out why Utah lawmakers believe in local control, except when it comes to civilian review boards for police agencies... discover the backstory behind H.B 245's attempt to regulate "no knock" warrants in Utah... and preview the battle over one lawmaker's attempt to exclude transgender women from sports teams in Utah.
February 2: Following-up from the privacy sandal over contracts with surveillance start-up Banjo last year, the Utah State Auditor released a report with principles that state agencies and law enforcement should follow when entering into contracts with data collection and surveillance companies. ACLU of Utah Board member Suresh Venkatasubramanian served on the committee that drafted these principles. Copied below is the ACLU's response to this report, as quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune.
"These principles, developed by technology and privacy experts, are a good initial step to stop the practice of state agencies and elected officials from being dazzled by the unverified claims of technology companies who often pay lip service to privacy concerns. In addition, this report establishes the practice of using independent experts to evaluate the state's purchase and usage of new surveillance software and data collection services, a practice that the Utah Legislature can solidify by passing H.B. 243 to create a Personal Privacy Oversight Committee." - ACLU of Utah
February 1: ACLU of Utah staff followed six bills in two separate hearings on this first Monday in February. We testified in support of HB 84 (Use of Force Reporting Requirements), which passed unanimously in the House Law Enforcement Committee. Marina Lowe also lobbied successfully to amend HB 147 (Revenge Porn Amendments) to remove the emotional distress requirement specifically for deceased or unconscious victims.
January 26: Jump into the second week of the Utah Legislative session with expert analysis from Marina Lowe, the ACLU's Legislative & Policy Counsel and veteran lobbyist. In this latest episode of "ACLU (Virtually) on the Hill," Marina discusses the legislation she is working on, including police reform and facial recognition bills. Plus, she describes what it's like to do her job during a deadly pandemic
January 23: In this video, Jason Groth, Smart Justice Attorney at the ACLU of Utah, gives a rundown on #HB143 (Driver License Suspension Amendments) ahead of its first hearing at the Utah Legislature.
January 20: As committee hearings fill up the calendar, learn how to give public comment virtually by signing up beforehand or joining the online hearings - check out our new guide on "How to Give Public Comment Virtually at the Utah Legislature"
January 19: The 2021 Utah Legislative session has begun. We have already posted several action alerts on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Follow us on our social media feeds to keep track of the latest news.
January 4: Check out our Guide to Legislative Advocacy in Utah. It's a six-page "how to" guide to starting up, or stepping up, your community lobbying game at the Utah Capitol (PDF) -- You can also watch a 3-minute video overview of this new guide (YouTube). Note: This advice does not reflect social distancing or other measures designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. Please follow all existing public health rules and recommendations when engaging in legislative lobbying.
See the 2020 Legislative Session Archive webpage for a complete list of the ACLU's updates, videos, and analysis from the previous legislative session
Build Your Lobbying Skills
- [NEW] How to Give Public Comment Virtually at the Utah Legislature - our new guide to testifying online during committee hearings (PDF)
- [NEW] Learn how to track and follow bills during the 2021 Legislative Session with our new Bill Tracking Guide (PDF)
- [NEW] How a Bill Becomes a Law - our handy 1-pager that adapts the Schoolhouse Rock icon for the Utah Legislature (PDF)
- Learn how to navigate the Utah Legislature's new website by watching our Online Lobbying 101 workshop
- Access ACLU Lobbying Resources "How to Contact Elected Officials" and "Understanding the Legislative Process"
- Catch up on last year's legislative session by reading our 2020 Legislative Report