2015 Libertas Legislation Tracker

Out of the 700+ 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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Think we missed a bill, or that our position is wrong? Let us know!

Bill Title Sponsor Citizen Sponsor ? LI's position Status Votes Actions
Children's Hearing Aid Program Amendments

House Bill 157 in the 2013 session established a two-year pilot program providing $100,000 annually in taxation revenue to purchase hearing aids for needy children. This bill converts the pilot program into a permanent one.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. While helping needy children is a worthy goal, it is one that should be left to private initiative—not coercive taxation.

Edwards, R.OpposePending Senate actionHouse, 59-12Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Powdered Alcohol Amendments

Powdered alcohol is fairly recent innovation that some companies have been looking to market for public use and consumption. This bill would fully ban the product in Utah, making it illegal to use, purchase, sell, or possess it.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. It is a reactionary overreach to a new product that should, for consistency sake, be classified similarly to liquid alcohol; adults should be free to possess and use this product if they so choose.

Eliason, S.Heise, T.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Public Education Increased Funding Program

This bill would increase the individual income tax from 5 to 6%, routing the additional revenue to the government education system.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. The income tax is illegitimate and should be repealed—at a minimum, it should definitely not be increased. Additional funding needs for the government education system should come through administrative cuts or fees paid for by those whose children are enrolled in government schools.

Draxler, J.Purser, J.OpposePending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Campaign Finance Amendments

This bill would establish donation limits on individuals, organizations, and corporations in supporting candidates for elected office, and would make it a Class B misdemeanor to violate the limits.

As a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling said on the matter, "No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations." We agree, and therefore oppose this bill.

King, B.Lee, W.OpposeHeld in committee10-0, House cmteEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Municipal Business Licensing Amendments

Current law allows Utah cities to require licenses and fees from small businesses to raise revenue for the city—effectively imposing a tax merely to raise money. This bill repeals that authority. It also carves out an exemption for small businesses and clarifies that nonprofit organizations are not businesses and therefore cannot be required to obtain a license and pays fees.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Many home-based businesses bring in only a few hundred dollars per year, and so the requirement by cities to pay $50 or more in licenses is onerous. Further, such small businesses do not substantially impact traffic or parking, and thus impose no burden on neighbors that might otherwise justify allowing for licensure and regulations.

Anderegg, J.Purser, J.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Distracted Driver Amendments

In the 2014 general session, a bill was passed enacted more stringent bans on the use of cell phones while driving. This bill attempts to reverse course, allowing adult drivers to make phone calls and use GPS devices while operating a moving vehicle.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. We favor increasing the penalty for drivers who actually harm or kill another person if it can be proven that they were knowingly distracted (and not just will mobile devices), rather than imposing a general prohibition on people who have not violated anybody's rights. As such, we support this bill and encourage legislators to go further in reforming the underlying law.

Anderegg, J.Palmer, S.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Student Privacy Act

This bill establishes comprehensive restrictions on the data produced by and for students within the public education system. It also affirms that any personally identifiable information is owned not by the state, but by the student.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. As technology increasingly works it way into public schools, massive amounts of data are being collected for each student, and if given the opportunity, the government and third party entities would use it to their advantage in ways that may be detrimental to the student. Restrictions are needed to prevent abuse and invasions of privacy.

Anderegg, J.Mulcock, L.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Ballot Publishing Amendments

Current law prohibits a person from allowing their ballot to be seen by another individual "with an intent to reveal how the he is about to vote." Many interpret this clause to also prohibit taking and sharing a photo of the ballot—something that is done quite often during election season. This bill would rectify the issue by explicitly exempting the taking and sharing of a photo of the ballot

Libertas Institute supports this bill. The original intent of this law is to prevent pressuring people into voting a certain way or otherwise affecting a person's private ballot decision, but the voluntary decision to share one's decision should in no way be prohibited.

Knotwell, J.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Safety Belt Law Amendments

This bill would make not wearing your seat belt a "primary offense" (a reason for which you could be pulled over and ticketed) on Utah's freeways.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. While we think it wise for all persons to wear their seat belt, we do not think it proper for the state to punish individuals who choose not to do so. Personal responsibility requires that people suffer the consequences of their own poor decision; augmenting Utah's "nanny state" to require good behavior is a bad decision.

Perry, L.Jarman, T.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Vehicle Impound Amendments

This bill would allow the police to seize a vehicle whose driver either has never received a driver license, or whose license is suspended, revoked, or has been expired for more than one year.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. Due process is required before a legitimate seizure of property, which this bill does not afford. The government should not be able to seize a vehicle merely because its driver happens to not be properly licensed—especially because the driver may be borrowing another person's vehicle, even without their knowledge. This broad overreach violates property rights and should be opposed.

Perry, L.Gardner. T.OpposePending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Investigational Drug and Device Access for Terminally Ill Patients

This legislation would allow terminal patients to access experimental drugs and devices not yet approved by the FDA in order to save their life, or increase its quality or length.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. No politician or bureaucrat should stand between a doctor and his patient. Those who desire to try a treatment should not be denied due to a lengthy and costly FDA process.

Froerer, G.Brimhall, F.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Cow-Share Program Amendments

In 2007, the Utah legislature banned cow shares, whereby multiple people may jointly own a cow and share its milk. This bill seeks to repeal that prohibition.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Property rights do not exist only when a person completely owns something; joint ownership of property is common, and each person retains their right to use their portion of that property just as they would if they owned all of it. As such, the cow share prohibition violates property rights and should be repealed.

Roberts, M.Patterson, S.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Antidiscrimination Modifications

This bill would make it illegal for a business (property) owner to fire, refuse to hire, or otherwise adversely treat an employee because of that employee's desire to breastfeed. The bill does not explicitly say, but its intent suggests, that this would mean that an employee could bring and breastfeed their baby to the place of business despite the wishes of the property owner.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. Anti-discrimination laws should be repealed in order to restore and protect property rights—and, at a minimum, they should not be added to as this bill aims to do. We certainly oppose unreasonable discrimination and would encourage it not to happen, but affirm a property owner's right to hire or fire whomever they please. This bill violates that right and should therefore be opposed.

Miller, J.Smith, L.OpposePending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Design Professionals - Amendments

Currently, interior designers in Utah, when seeking building permits to make modifications to certain architectural elements of an interior, must do so through a licensed architect. Some designers want the ability to work independently from them. This bill would create a new license specifically for this profession, along with a professional licensing board and new requirements for interior designers to obtain the license and legally work.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. While we understand the burden of existing regulation on interior designers, we do not think that the solution is more regulation. A better approach would be to revisit the requirements for building permits and ensure that regulatory oversight and restrictions on design plans exist only for those items that truly impact public health and safety in a significant and verifiable way. Outside of that, design practitioners should not be placed under additional regulation.

Cox, F.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
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.Anderson, J.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Tax Credit for Home-schooling Parent

100% of state income taxes are diverted to public and higher education. Since home-schooling families do not utilize public schools, they incur a large personal expense for the education of their children without receiving the benefit of their tax dollars in the public school system. This bill would create a non-refundable tax credit of $500 per homeschooled child, allowing parents who homeschool their children to more easily pay for the materials and activities their education requires.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Unlike many tax credits that try to incentivize behavior and are more reflective of central planning than wise tax policy, the direct relationship of the income tax to public education suggests that it makes sense to reduce the income tax burden upon Utahns whose children do not attend government schools.

Lifferth, D.DeForest, H.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Insurance Related Inducements

Late last year, the Utah Insurance Department cracked down on Zenefits, an innovative online service that provided free benefits and human resources management software. Alleging that it was a violation of the law, the department's action generated significant controversy and public backlash. This will would explicitly legalize Zenefits' operations.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Free enterprise demands that consenting customers be able to contract with one another on mutually agreeable terms; the Utah Insurance Department's threats should be terminated, and this bill accomplishes that purpose.

Knotwell, J.Barnes, T.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Prohibition on Tattooing of Minors

Under current law, a minor may obtain a tattoo with the consent of a parent. This bill would prohibit the tattooing of minors, even in cases where the minor desires one and their parent consents. It would also provide for a civil penalty of $1,500 against any tattoo parlor or person who tattoos a minor.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. The state should not unnecessarily interfere in family affairs, and teenagers and their parents should be left free to make this determination on their own. The heavy hand of the state in this case is unwarranted.

Christensen, L.Tavares, A.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Prohibition on Electronic Data Collection Assistance

This bill would prohibit political subdivisions in Utah (cities, counties, etc.) from materially supporting the NSA. In practice, it would outlaw Bluffdale from providing water to the Utah Data Center.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. A federal agency routinely violating our rights should not be tolerated, let alone supported or subsidized.

Roberts, M.Bayless, D.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Asset Forfeiture Revisions

Under civil asset forfeiture, the government claims (and exercises) the authority to forcibly take a person's property who has not been charged with—let alone convicted of—a crime. This bill would restrict the state's ability to forfeit property, requiring a criminal conviction before the government can proceed with forfeiture.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Property rights and due process demand that a person's property not be taken, temporarily or permanently, without evidence that it was used for, or the result of, the commission of a crime. This bill takes us in the right direction.

Greene, B.Duncan, D.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Public School Early Graduation Amendments

This bill requires schools to notify students how they can graduate early by taking an accelerated schedule of classes. It also increases a taxpayer-funded incentive scholarship for students who do graduate early.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Encouraging youth to make their way out of the public education system and more quickly enter a career, start a business, or pursue higher education is an added bonus on top of decreasing the burden on taxpayers to fund the child's education for an additional year.

Osmond, A.Bigham, C.SupportPending Senate action6-0, Senate cmteEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Closed Primary Amendments

The controversial Senate Bill 54, which passed in the 2014 general session, reformed how political parties operate in Utah. Part of the requirement for a qualified political party is to open its primary elections to unaffiliated voters, thus allowing for people not registered in a political party to vote on who its nominee will be. This bill strikes that provision, closing party primaries to members only.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. Effectively forcing parties to open their nomination process to voters not affiliated with the party is a violation of the freedom of association (and thus, disassociation).

Jenkins, S.Jolley, M.SupportPending committee actionEmail your Senator/RepEmail committee members
Asset Forfeiture Amendments

This bill is model legislation provided by Libertas Institute to require transparency and proactive reporting when the government uses civil asset forfeiture to take a person's property. Following model legislation provided last year that restored property rights protections to forfeiture law—which passed the legislature unanimously—this additional requirement helps the public better understand when and why the state is taking property without an associated criminal conviction.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. The taking of property—especially with civil asset forfeiture, where the government can take property without charging, let alone convicting, a person of a crime—should be subjected to thorough transparency and reporting requirements.

Stephenson, H.Simpson, A.SupportPending Senate actionSenate cmte 5-0Email your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Forcible Entry Amendments

Last year, Libertas Institute provided model legislation to restrict the authority of police officers to forcibly enter a home. Following negotiations and some compromises, the bill passed. This bill proposes additional restrictions, such as elevating the legal standard required to forcibly enter a home, prohibiting it from being done merely to prevent the destruction of evidence, requiring body cameras and uniforms, and imposing a penalty to the government for violating the law.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. The authority claimed by the state to introduce violence into a person's sanctuary in order to enforce a law the person is suspected of violating should be appropriately restricted so as to protect the person's life and property. This bill is a great step in that direction.

Urquhart, S.Stewart, E.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Property Tax Equalization Amendments

Currently, the minimum basic tax—a state property tax—decreases as property values increase, thus keeping the tax revenue neutral. This bill would freeze the tax rate, preventing it from decreasing in the future with rising values, thus taking tens of millions of dollars from Utahns that otherwise would remain in their pockets.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill, as we oppose all tax increases. The state already takes plenty of money from taxpayers, and adding to that burden is the wrong direction to go.

Osmond, A.Klaass, F.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Antidiscrimination Amendments

This bill would prevent employers or landlords from discriminating against a person because of their "gender identity" or "sexual orientation." This proposal, along with existing anti-discrimination law, is a violation of property rights.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. The government has no authority to violate the freedom of association to dictate to a property owner with whom he or she must share or use their own property.

Urquhart, S.Orme, V.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
Education Elections and Reporting Amendments

Currently, the Governor has the authority to arbitrarily eliminate candidates seeking election to the State Board of Education. This bill repeals that authority. It also subjects candidates to the partisan nomination process, along with candidates for local school boards.

Libertas Institute supports this bill. The heightened scrutiny that comes through the caucus/convention process will minimize the ability of candidates to hide behind a "non-partisan" facade. A school board managing millions, if not billions, of taxpayer dollars should be subjected to greater oversight that the delegates often provide.

Jackson, A.Norton, O.SupportIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor
State Board of Education Changes (constitutional amendment)

This bill would propose a constitutional amendment to Utah voters to change the Utah State Board of Education from elected positions to appointed positions. The Governor would appoint its members, with the consent of the Senate.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. A government board that oversees billions of taxpayer dollars should not come under the control and whim of a single elected official, however well intentioned he or she may be. Voters need more oversight and accountability for Board positions—not less.

Millner, A.Tonga, T.OpposeIntroducedEmail your Senator/RepEmail the bill sponsor