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Utah Legislature preview

Bills are already being drafted as the Utah Legislature gears up for the upcoming session, which convenes Jan. 23, 2012. Most legislation is not yet written, but many titles have been submitted and made public. The following is a review of the bills proposed so far.

 Advanced Health Care Directives Amendments
Sen. Pat Jones (D-Holladay)

This bill, originally introduced in 2009, expands the list of health care professionals authorized to determine whether an adult lacks health care decision-making capacity and to sign a life-with-dignity order.

Civil Commitment Amendments
Rep. Brad Daw (R-Orem)

This bill deals with involuntary commitment, also known as civil commitment, of mentally ill people. While the title appears to deal with civil unions, it’s actually an amendment to add harmful sexual conduct to an existing bill as grounds for civil commitment. The bill was heard in an interim committee.

Driver License Qualification Amendments
Sen. Stephen Urquhart (R-St. George)

This bill, originally introduced in the 2011 session, would eliminate the driver privilege cards. These cards allow people who do not have social security numbers but have an identification code from the IRS to operate a vehicle legally. They can be used to purchase auto insurance and are popular with international students.

Family Planning Funding Restrictions
Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman)

In a rehash from a similar bill during the 2011 session, Rep. Carl Wimmer wants to stop federal money being distributed through the state to Planned Parenthood. He said the effort is to stop organizations that perform abortions from receiving money from the state. Planned Parenthood does not use taxpayer dollars to perform abortions. However, it is one of the state’s best resources for testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and is one of the only resources in Southern Utah. If the measure passes, Planned Parenthood will be forced to cut programs such as testing and treatment of Chlamydia.

Guardianship Amendments
Rep. Kraig Powell (R-Heber City)

This is Powell’s third attempt to pass a bill to modernize and reinforce the entire Utah guardianship laws.  The bill is the product of a working group formed by the Administrative Office of the Utah State Courts. The main impetus behind the bill is to provide greater protection to an incapacitated person in order to prevent fraud and abuse by guardians.

Marriage Amendments
Rep. John Dougall (R-American Fork)

The bill adds amendments to streamline the paperwork and processing by the county clerk regarding marriage licenses.

Offender Registry Review
Rep. Jack Draxler (R-North Logan)

This bill allows a person on the Sex Offender and Kidnap Offender Registry to petition the court for removal after five years for certain offenses, including unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and voyeurism.

Parental Notification Requirements
Rep. Christine Watkins (D-Price)

The bill would require the Division of Child and Family Services to have a pamphlet available to parents when children are taken from their homes.  The pamphlet would tell parents about their rights and the process they will have to follow.

Victims’ Rights
Rep. Curt Webb (R-Logan)

If it can be shown that the rights of a crime victim were violated, a judge may review the case. If the court’s decision or judgment would have been different, the court can enter the new decision or judgment as the appropriate remedy. The bill is supported by the Utah Council on Victims of Crime.

Collective Bargaining for Public Employees
Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper)

In an attempt to push Utah educators into a performance-based pay system, Sen. Howard Stephenson is trying for the second year in a row to ban collective bargaining. While originally intended for educators only, Stephenson said he is willing to support banning all collective bargaining for all public employees. Wisconsin lawmakers faced a tough legislative battle and several recalls after passing a similar law.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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