2016 Libertas Legislation Tracker

Out of the ~1,000 bills introduced during each year's general legislative session, Libertas Institute highlights those that have a particular interest to our mission of championing individual liberty, private property, and free enterprise.

NOTE: New bills are being added daily, and as the session progresses we will be updating the status of each of the bills below here on the Tracker. Check back often for updates!

Key: Libertas supports the bill Libertas opposes the bill     Libertas considers these bills its top priority for the session

Click here to view a readable list of the bills included in this index, along with their summaries and explanations.

Tip: You can hover over any of the rows in the table below to see a summary of what it is and why we support or oppose it. Click any table cell in the header to re-sort the entire table.

Proposed bills

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Bill Title Sponsor Citizen Sponsor ? LI's position Status Votes Actions
Civil Asset Forfeiture - Procedural Reforms

Civil asset forfeiture is a legal tool that allows police and prosecutors to steal, under the color of law, a person's property without that person being charged with—let alone being convicted of—a crime. Following two years of successful reform on this issue by Libertas Institute, this bill enacts strong reforms by: requiring a specific, related criminal allegation; limiting the type of property that can be seized; removing a cap for attorney's fees, which disincentivizes owners to fight for their property; requires property to be returned, with interest, if the owner is acquitted of the related criminal allegation; and requires that proceeds from civil forfeiture have to be placed in the education fund.

Throughout the country, states have been either eliminating civil asset forfeiture outright, or enacting stronger protections. The Institute for Justice recently gave Utah a "D-" score due to the high potential of abuse in forfeiture law. This bill takes a large step towards property restraint. Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Greene, B.Duncan, D.SupportPending House actionHouse cmte, 11-0Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Committee Amendments

The Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Committee is tasked with certain reviews of professions that are licensed by the state. This bill expands the scope of the committee, and also empowers it to recommend alternatives to licensure that are less onerous, and more market-friendly. Utah ranks 12th among the states, according to the Institute for Justice, for heavy occupational licensure; this bill would provide a pathway for the legislature to head in a direction more friendly to the free market.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Stanard, J.Gardner, H.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Exemption from Daylight Saving Time

This bill would exempt Utah from Daylight Saving Time, and as such would allow the state to stay on standard time year around, placing us on the same schedule as Arizona. This would eliminate the need to “spring forward” or “fall back.”

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Cox, F.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Weapons on Public Transportation

Under current law, a person who boards a bus with a firearm—except for law enforcement officials and concealed weapon permit holders—is guilty of a third degree felony. This bill would eliminate this penalty enhancement, making the carrying of a firearm consistent with being on other property.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. The right to keep and bear arms is fundamental and should not be infringed; carrying a gun on a bus should not be treated differently from carrying one on a sidewalk.

Thurston, N.Benjamin, S.SupportPending House actionHouse cmte, 9-1Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Alcoholic Beverage Service Amendments

Utah law requires restaurants to mix alcoholic drinks behind an opaque wall, pejoratively nicknamed the "Zion Curtain" by its detractors. Proponents claim it helps reduce temptation for minors to imbibe. There is no data to support this assertion. This bill would repeal the requirement for restaurants that instead choose to provide a pre-emptive public notice that such drinks are mixed in plain view in the establishment.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. A free market demands repealing this odd requirement. Parents who don't want their children to see alcoholic drinks being mixed can choose their restaurants accordingly.

Powell, K.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Vehicle Impound Amendments

Utah law currently requires police to impound a vehicle that is being operated without insurance. This bill would remove this requirement and provide police officers discretion in determining whether seizure of the vehicle is necessary.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Property rights entail a protection of property from unreasonable seizure; lack of insurance does not justify, in every case, the impounding of one's car.

Cox, F.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Private Attorney General Doctrine

Several years ago, the Utah legislature passed a law that prohibits courts from compensating individuals who successfully overturn a law that violated the rights of the public at large. Utah is the only state that prohibits this by law. This bill would repeal that prohibition, thereby allowing courts to award such fees once more.

Libertas supports this bill. In a case where a government agency is violating the public's rights, the Attorney General would be duty bound to defend the government; incentives are needed such that private citizens can act in the public interest to overturn such laws.

Greene, B.Born, G.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Health Care Sharing Ministry Amendments

Health care cost sharing plans involve members voluntarily sending payments to help defray others' medical costs, with the promise and presumption that others will do the same for them as needed. They are not insurance plans, and actually are exempt from the federal insurance mandate; members of these programs are not penalized for not having insurance.

This bill exempts members of these cost sharing programs from insurance regulations by the state, statutorily making clear that such programs are not insurance and should not be regulated as such. Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Kennedy, M.Van Bloem, J.SupportPending House actionHouse cmte, 12-0Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Beekeeping Modifications

Beekeeping is prohibited in the Beehive State, unless you register with, and pay a fee to, the state government. This bill would repeal that prohibition, replacing it with an optional and voluntary registration for those who desire services from the Department of Agriculture.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Many beekeepers are unregistered and see no point. They are operating illegally. This bill ensures that such peaceful and productive activity is legal.

Roberts, M.Levi, J.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Municipal Business Licensing Amendments

Current law allows cities to require home-based businesses to obtain permits and pay fees as a condition of operating in the resident's home. These fees can often be significant compared to the revenue such businesses produce. This bill would largely carve out such small, home-based businesses, exempting them from licensure and fees.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. As no regulation is needed of lawful commercial enterprises conducted within one's home, cities should not be allowed to require such businesses to pay fees—since no corresponding services are provided to them for such payment.

Anderegg, J.Augustine, E.SupportPending House actionHouse cmte, 10-2Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Food Freedom Act

Food regulations were designed, and are properly intended, for cases in which food is sold to consumers who are unaware of the food's source or safety. This is not the case in direct-from-farm sales to an informed consumer, and therefore these costly regulations should not be applied to such situations.

Libertas Institute supports this bill, having called for this exemption from law in the publication of our Public Policy Brief on the subject. A "buyer beware" approach should be a legal option for consumers and farmers who want to directly exchange food.

Roberts, M.Patterson, S.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Age Limit for Tobacco and Related Products

This bill prohibits the possession of tobacco, e-cigarettes, or paraphernalia by an individual less than 21 years of age. It also bans the sale of such items to those under 21, and prohibits those under 21 from being present at certain establishments where such items are sold or used.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. Legal adults—those 18 years of age and older—should not be prohibited by law from purchasing legal products. If 18 year olds can be sent to war, they should be legally able to smoke.

Powell, K.Eggertsen, D.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Motor Vehicle Business Regulation Amendments

In 2000, Larry Miller successfully lobbied the Utah legislature to enact a protectionist law that requires car dealers to only sell on one weekend day; all choose Saturday, effectively forcing them to shut down Sunday. This was done in an attempt to ward off competition from national dealers whose employees would work on Sunday as well. This bill repeals that language in an effort to protect the free market as required by Utah's Constitution.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. The government should not be used to shield businesses from competition, and those wishing to close on Sunday should voluntarily choose to do so, as in the case of Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-A.

Roberts, M.Anderson, J.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Living Wage Amendments

This bill would raise the minimum wage to $12, and add a bi-annual automatic increased tied to the increase in inflation.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. Increasing the minimum wage serves as a barrier to entry for teenagers and unskilled workers for whom opportunities decrease, as employers are unable to afford their low skill work which would otherwise provide them an opportunity to increase skill, gain experience, and increase pay.

Hemingway, L.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Lobbying by State Agencies Amendments

State employees hired to administer the law routinely lobby legislators to alter it—expanding their authority, giving them more money, etc. This bill would prohibit lobbying by state employees, while reasonably allowing them to provide testimony in committee or request legislation be sponsored to address an issue.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Too often, at present, these individuals push an agenda on Capitol hill and try to kill legislation that might alter their practice, reduce their authority, or require them to do something they desire not to. This practice should end, and this bill is a good step in the right direction.

Roberts, M.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Immunization of Students Amendments

Current law allows parents of children in public or private schools to claim a one-time medical, religious, or personal exemption from vaccinating their children as a condition of admittance to school. This bill would make the exemption an annual requirement, in addition to forcing parents to view an "online education module" from the Department of Health regarding vaccines in order to receive the exemption.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. Requiring parents to be indoctrinated from biased sources of information (because the government rarely admits to the risks involved in vaccinating children) is violative of their fundamental rights as the stewards of their children's information.

Moss, C.Chevrier, K.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Independent Energy Producer Amendments

Many Utahns desire to purchase solar panels to produce their own electricity using a "power purchase agreement" with the solar company, in order to avoid the up front expenditure of the panel system. This is against the law at present. This bill would remedy the problem by recognizing such companies as legal, independent energy producers.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Insofar as residential solar energy production is possible, consumers should be free to contract with companies willing to offer such services without unnecessary interference from the state.

Gibson, F.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Deferred Deposit Lending and Identity Theft Amendments

This bill would prohibit payday lenders from issuing a loan to a potential borrower that has two outstanding loans, or a loan that exceeds 25% of the borrower's gross monthly income. Lenders would be punished with a class B misdemeanor for violation of the law.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. While education may help to encourage better borrowing practices, the government should not use the force of law to prevent people from making bad decisions.

Daw, B.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Body-worn Cameras for Law Enforcement Officers

For law enforcement agencies that utilize body cameras, this bill sets minimum standards across the state to follow when using them. Provisions include guidance for when cameras must be turned on, how footage is to be used, and how recordings are to be retained and disclosed. The bill seeks to strike a balance between the needs of law enforcement and the rights of the public.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. The use of body cameras requires a more thoughtful set of policies to ensure that their use is consistent and predictable across the state and protects the rights of all Utahns equally.

McCay, D.Craig, A.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Concurrent Resolution on Waters of the United States

A new rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency purports to grant it the authority to regulate and micromanage not only interstate water, but intrastate water as well—bodies of water entirely within Utah. This resolution expresses opposition to that rule change, and support for pending litigation to fight it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. We wrote a public policy brief a few months ago calling for this action, encouraging the legislature to voice opposition to this egregious violation of federalism.

Noel, M.SupportPending Senate actionHouse cmte, 9-1
House, 64-9
Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Judges of Courts Not of Record (Const. Amendment)

Judges who oversee "justice courts"—which are operated and controlled by cities—are not required to be trained in the law. Many such judges have no legal expertise and have previous professions wholly unrelated to policy matters. This constitutional amendment proposal would require such judges to be admitted to practice law in Utah.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Judges authorizing fines and penalties on Utahns should be well versed in each person's rights and due process protections—concepts that are explained in law school, but alien to many bakers, teachers, and dairy farmers who now serve as judges in Utah.

Hall, C.Heise, T.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution -- Right to Food

The FDA claims that individuals do not have the right to consume any particular food. This bill would propose an amendment to Utah voters to amend the state's constitution to assert that, indeed, individuals have the right to grow and consume food, or acquire food directly from a farm.

Libertas Institute supports this bill, having recently published a public policy brief calling for this amendment to protect individuals from unnecessary regulation.

Roberts, M.Patterson, S.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Compulsory Education Revisions

Under current law, parents can be criminally prosecuted for the truancy of their children. In the past decade, 20 parents were jailed and 171 fined for violations of Utah compulsory education laws. This bill would decriminalize truancy for parents, removing the potential of fines and jail time for parents whose children are absent from school more than the school may allow.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Government is, and should remain, supportive and secondary to parents who have the primary responsibility for the education of their children. It is improper to punish them for not having their children in school every day that may be required.

Jackson, A.Birkeland, K.SupportPending Senate actionSenate cmte, 6-1Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Nurse Practitioner Amendments

Under current Utah law, advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), or "nurse practitioners," are required to pay a doctor under a "consultation and referral plan" before being able to prescribe certain medications—despite receiving advanced training in order to be able to prescribe medications. This bill removes the mandate.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Utah's Constitution purports to guarantee a free market, and the existing law violates this fundamental tenet. Health care providers should be permitted to practice their profession to the full extent of their training and professional scope of practice.

Hinkins, D.Eatchel, A.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Antidiscrimination Act Revisions

This bill would force employers to provide accommodations for employees related to pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.

Utah's Constitution states that "a free market system shall govern trade and commerce in this state." As this bill would force employers to accommodate activity they otherwise might prefer not to, it violates the free market and must therefore be opposed.

Weiler, T.OpposePending House actionSenate cmte, 5-0
Senate, 18-9
Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Medical Cannabis Act

This bill would legalize whole plant, medical cannabis in Utah. Patients would need a doctor's recommendation, and would be able to obtain their medicine under a highly regulated, tightly controlled system that involves significant tracking, regulatory oversight, and law enforcement access.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Sick and suffering Utahns should not be criminalized for possessing and using something that improves or saves their life. Utah's laws must change to ensure that patients are not treated as criminals.

Madsen, M.Stenquist, C.SupportPending Senate actionSenate cmte, 4-1Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Medicaid Expansion Proposal

This bill would expand Medicaid in Utah until the federal government reduces its contributions towards the population covered under expansion.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. In every state where it has been expanded, Medicaid has been a budget buster—and individuals enrolled in Medicaid are unlikely to silently watch their entitlements evaporate should the federal government reduce its contributions. In reality, this new constituency would create significant pressure to maintain and expand Medicaid even further. This is bad for Utah taxpayers.

Davis, G.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Child Welfare Revisions

Current Utah law allows the state to maintain custody of children after they age into adulthood, treating them as minors even as 18, 19, or 20 year olds. This bill would remove that power, ensuring that adults are not subject to the jurisdiction of juvenile courts.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Legal adults should be treated as such, and children in custody of the state who become adults and wish to return home to their parents must be allowed to do so.

Jackson, A.Egan, J.SupportPending committee actionSenate cmte, 3-3Email your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Child Welfare Modifications

Dangerous, psychotropic medication is administered at a high rate within the foster care system—31% for foster care children are given such drugs, compared to 6% in the general population. This bill would create a pilot program to provide oversight to the prescribing of this medication to foster children, in an effort to ensure it is only being given where necessary.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Parents need better information and oversight over the medication their children are given when in custody of the state.

Harper, W.Belcher, M.SupportPending Senate actionSenate cmte, 3-0Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Municipal Landscape Amendments

This bill would prohibit cities and counties from requiring property owners to landscape their properties using grass.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Local governments should not be able to compel property owners to comply with aesthetic mandates that have no impact on public health or safety.

Jenkins, S.Jensen, M.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Concealed Firearms Amendments

This bill would allow a person 21 years or older to carry a concealed firearm without having to obtain a permit.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. The right to keep and bear arms does not entail having to first seek the government's permission.

Hinkins, D.Jarman, T.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Amendments to Income Tax

This bill would create income tax brackets in Utah, charging a higher income tax rate to wealthier individuals. The income tax should not exist at all, but if it is to exist, then it should be equally applied to all without discrimination. Libertas Institute opposes this bill.

Dabakis, J.OpposePending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Hate Crimes Amendments

This bill would require a "penalty enhancement" for crimes in which the aggressor targeted the victim because of his or her “belief or perception regarding [the] individual’s ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation,” or the victim’s affiliation with a group that shares one or more of these characteristics.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. Whether an assault was instigated by the aggressor’s jealousy, drunkenness, anger, or discriminatory “perception” about the victim’s personal characteristics is immaterial. Taxpayers should not be required to subsidize higher incarceration rates in pursuit of misnamed “social justice.”

Urquhart, S.Cope, T.OpposePending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail the committee
Birthing Center Amendments

Currently, hospitals in Utah are able to shield themselves from competition by legally denying free-standing birthing centers the ability to expand. This bill would prevent that, by prohibiting the Health Facility Committee from requiring certain things that are impossible to obtain or achieve.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Free-standing birthing centers, which compete with hospitals, should not be denied the opportunity to expand by requiring them to first obtain permission from their primary competitors.

Henderson, D.SupportPending Senate actionSenate cmte, 4-2Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Joint Resolution Calling for the Repeal of the 17th Amendment

America's bicameral legislature was designed by its creators to be divided and different—the House would represent the people, based on population, and the Senate would represent the states with legislatures deciding who should fill the position. The 17th Amendment changed this, allowing people to directly vote for Senators. This resolution calls on Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to repeal this provision.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Congress would benefit from additional checks and balances, and this unique aspect would help minimize Congress' longstanding usurpation of power not delegated by states to the federal government under the Constitution.

Jackson, A.Mulcock, L.SupportPending Senate actionSenate cmte, 5-1Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor