The previous legislative session, which concluded in March, produced 484 bills that were signed into law. Many of these were detrimental to individual liberty, private property, and free enterprise. But several were very important, such as the three that go into effect today—each of which were either kickstarted by or originated from Libertas Institute.
Last August, we featured an interview with Jennifer May, a conservative Mormon mother of a son with a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome. Jennifer expressed a desire to obtain medical cannabis for her child to try, as no other treatment was working. Our interview brought significant and immediate media attention to the May family, and others like them. The spotlight on their suffering led to their successful lobbying effort, resulting in House Bill 105, now dubbed “Charlee’s Law.” This law allows them to legally possess and use the extract of the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes, in hopes of reducing, and potentially eliminating, the severe seizures their children suffer.
Two people died, and several more were injured, as a result of a nighttime raid on the home of Matthew David Stewart two years ago. In the wake of that tragedy we proposed legislation to reform how “forcible entry” (home invasion) warrants are served. The resulting bill was House Bill 70 which passed the legislature overwhelmingly, and was signed into law. This new law, which also goes into effect today, requires police officers to use the least amount of force necessary when serving search warrants, and only allows for no-knock warrants when there is probable cause of an imminent need.
Last, but definitely not least, is House Bill 128. This sweeping legislation, positioning Utah as a leader on matters of electronic data privacy, requires a warrant to obtain the location, stored data, or transmitted data of an electronic device, such as a cell phone. Proposed by Libertas Institute, the resulting legislation has been praised by legislators, activists, and reporters alike for its comprehensive privacy protections and forward-thinking application to emerging technologies. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling related to cell phone privacy, though Utah, as a result of House Bill 128, is still far ahead.
Utahns should be excited about the significance of these new laws, and the trend they are creating for potential future reform.