2020

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The following bills are included in this year's Legislative Tracker. Below each bill's title and number is our summary and explanation of why we support or oppose the bill.

School Absenteeism and Truancy Amendments (HB 14) Support

This bill makes some minor changes to school truancy, but also ensures that schools can only impose administrative penalties on truant children who are in grade 7 or above, exempting out younger children. The bill also narrows an existing crime for parents to allow their children to be truant, instead limiting it to cases where the truant child is in grade 1 through 6, ensuring parents are not criminalized for their older truant children.

Libertas supports this bill. We consider this an incremental improvement to the current law, to improve parental rights.

Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Proceedings Amendments (HB 33) Support

This bill limits the cases in which the government can seek to permanently terminate a parent's rights with respect to their children.

Libertas supports this bill. Termination of parental rights is a very serious government action and should follow due process and only be used as an absolute last resort.

Distracted Driver Amendments (HB 101) Oppose

This bill would criminalize the "manual manipulation," or holding, of a cell phone while operating a vehicle. The offense would be an infraction.

Libertas opposes this bill. Criminally punishing any manipulation of a phone is unnecessarily excessive and a significant over-criminalization of an activity that is not inherently dangerous. People "manipulate" their car dashboard, their makeup, their food, and other things that are not criminalized; merely pressing something on your phone should not be.

911 Responsibilities in an Emergency (HB 104) Oppose

This bill criminalizes the failure to call 911 during a crime or emergency in which somebody is suffering serious bodily injury.

Libertas opposes this bill. Allowing a prosecutor to later seek punishment for a person who made a bad moral judgment, but who did not necessarily intend to aid in the continued injury of the person, is a bad policy decision that unnecessarily criminalizes Utahns who find themselves in such a circumstance.

Universal Background Checks for Firearm Purchasers (HB 109) Oppose

This bill requires background checks be conducted on all firearm sales, except when a firearm is transferred between family members or to a law enforcement agency, or other minor exceptions.

Libertas opposes this bill. Currently Utahs may privately sell firearms to one another without the bureaucratic overhead imposed by the federal government. This bill would discourage private sales by imposing this burden, and it also inconsistently targets firearms, but not other dangerous weapons.

Dangerous Weapon Custodian Liability (HB 115) Oppose

This bill makes a firearm owner liable for damage caused by their firearm if they share it with another person who they should have known was an "unfit individual," who then uses the firearm to cause personal injury or property damage.

Libertas opposes this bill. Culpability for using a weapon to harm somebody should rest with the person who commits the harmful act, and not on the person who loaned the weapon when they had no intention to support the use of the firearm in a criminal act.

Rent Control Jurisdiction Amendments (HB 131) Oppose

This bill would allow local governments to create "rent control" laws that arbitrarily impose price restrictions on the cost of renting property.

Libertas opposes this bill. Rental prices should be subject only to market forces as a private contractual matter between landlord and renter. The government's intervention into this relationship would be arbitrary and distort the market unnecessarily.

Higher Education Student Speech Rights (HB 132) Support

This bill makes sure that free speech is protected on taxpayer-funded college campuses by making sure that the institution cannot prohibit speech that is not discriminatory harassment and by giving the student a cause of action to challenge a restriction of his or her speech.

Libertas supports this bill. The free exchange of ideas, including controversial ones, is an important aspect of education, especially when coercively funded by taxpayers.

Trail Improvement Amendments (HB 133) Oppose

This bill would expand the government's power of eminent domain to take a person's property for the purposes of creating a public trail.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill. The government should not be able to take a person's property against their wishes to give other people the ability to walk or bike along it on a trail that is not essential.

Raw Milk Products Amendments (HB 134) Support

This bill expands the current raw milk law to include cream and butter in addition to milk as an option for consumers to buy.

Libertas supports this bill. It is a reasonable extension of the current law, and informed consumers should be able to buy raw milk products.

Safe Storage of Firearms Amendments (HB 136) Oppose

This bill would create a criminal penalty for gun owners who do not securely store their firearms in the home so minors may not access them.

Libertas opposes this bill. There are many cases when minors have successfully used firearms in self defense to repel home invaders. Responsible education is key, but it is improper to criminally punish parents whose responsible children understand how and when to use a family firearm in defense.

Employment Selection Procedures Act Amendments (HB 140) Oppose

This bill would prohibit a company from seeking any information regarding a job applicant's past compensation history.

Libertas opposes this bill. Employers take many factors into their consideration of whether to hire an applicant. Past compensation is one such factor that an at-will employer should have the ability to determine; criminalizing their access to the information is unnecessary.

Driver License Suspension Amendments (HB 146) Support

This bill prohibits driver license suspensions for failure to pay court debt, and failure to appear in many non-driving related offenses.

Libertas supports this bill. If a person fails to pay the fine or appear in court, a warrant should be sufficient in getting them to do so. Taking away their ability to legally drive imposes needless harm on the individual that often is far harsher than the penalty for the underlying crime itself.

Property Tax Notifications Amendments (HB 164) Support

Under this bill, taxpayers would see additional helpful information on their property tax notice.

Libertas supports this bill. These changes should help taxpayers understand their property taxes better and inform them on deadlines to take action.

Tinted Vehicle Windows Amendments (HB 170) Support

This bill lowers the allowed vehicle tint for the front two vehicle windows from 43% to 25% light transmittance, letting Utahns drive with slightly stronger window tint.

Libertas supports this bill. Utahns should not be criminalized for wanting to reduce the light or heat entering their vehicle.

Vehicle Emissions Reduction Program (HB 176) Oppose

This bill creates a "Cash for Clunkers" program in Utah, giving out taxpayer-funded checks of up to $5,500 to purchase a new vehicle.

Libertas opposes this bill. While cleaner air is an important goal, paying people with taxpayer money to get newer cars is an improper use of government spending.

Limited Driver License Amendments (HB 178) Support

This bill allows an individual to appeal the suspension of their license for a first-time DUI, in limited cases.

Libertas supports this bill. It would allow for more individuals to be contributing members of society while maintaining a job and forming a better future for themselves which they would not be able to do without a driver license.

Social Security Tax Amendments (HB 181) Support

Under this bill, certain retirees would receive a non-refundable income tax credit for up to $450 on their social security benefits.

Libertas supports this bill. It is an important first step to future expansion of this tax credit that would promote financial security and self-reliance for seniors who have structured their retirement to depend upon these promised payments.

Driver License Record Amendments (HB 183) Support

This bill prevents the Driver License Division from sharing a person's information with the University of Utah for research unless the person consents.

Libertas supports this bill. Individuals have the right to determine who their personal information is shared with and used by.

Eminent Domain Limitations (HB 198) Support

This bill would prevent eminent domain for generational family farms in Salt Lake County if the eminent domain taking is for a public park.

Libertas supports this bill. Property deserves protection from government takings that are not necessary.

Local Government Nuisance Ordinance Reform (HB 202) Support

This bill stops the criminalization of ordinance violations on residential property that do not cause a nuisance to neighbors.

Libertas supports this bill. The proposal will help balance the safety of the community while prioritizing individual property rights.

Bail and Pretrial Release Amendments (HB 206) Support

The bill reinforces Utahn's presumption of innocence by reforming pretrial release practices.

Libertas supports this bill. The purpose of bail is to ensure a person charged with a crime will show up for their court date. But cash bail has not always been an effective or fair way of accomplishing this. This bill takes the state in a better direction.

Extreme Risk Protection Order (HB 229) Oppose

This bill creates a process in which a court may order the forcible removal of a person's firearms based on an ex parte order in which the firearm owner may not defend themselves against the allegations.

Libertas opposes this bill. An individual’s right to keep and bear arms should not be undermined through an ex parte order, violating the presumption of innocence that persons should maintain in order to have their rights preserved.

Genetic Information Amendments (HB 231) Support

This bill restricts the government's ability to go on warrantless fishing expeditions in databases containing your DNA information.

Libertas supports this bill. Private DNA information should remain inaccessible to goverment agents snooping around who don't have any suspects and therefore cannot satisfy the U.S. Constitution's particularity requirement.

Kindergarten Attendance Amendments (HB 241) Oppose

This bill makes Kindergarten mandatory for 5-year-olds and intervenes into homeschooling families who avoid the government school system for these young children.

Libertas opposes this bill. Parents should retain the right to avoid the school system without jumping through hoops and being told by the government how they should be teaching their child.

School Construction Projects Amendments (HB 251) Support

This bill requires a school district to obtain multiple bids before selecting a contractor to build a school.

Libertas supports this bill. Large school projects have not undergone sufficient scrutiny in the past to ensure that taxes are not wasted on inflated bids.

Eminent Domain Revisions (HB 261) Support

This bill further limits the government's ability to take land and property for uses that are not absolutely necessary for the public need.

Libertas supports this bill Tightening up the rules for eminent domain - the taking of private property for allegedly public need - should be constrained to things that are only absolutely necessary. Property rights in a free society are foundational to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Juvenile Delinquency Amendments (HB 262) Support

This bill prevents most children who are 12 or younger from being kept in state detention for crimes.

Libertas supports this bill. Many youth in the juvenile justice system have underlying issues that can be better addressed in the home with the support of their family and state services.

Government Records Transparency Act (HB 265) Support

This bill would require government agencies to annually report to the state auditor what personally identifying information they collect.

Libertas supports this bill. This information is critical to understand the full scope of how government is collecting, using, and storing this information.

Interstate Compact for Economic Development (HB 270) Support

Ends new economic tax incentives for private businesses if all 50 states enter into a compact.

Delegation of Health Care Services Amendments (HB 274) Support

This bill protects a person's ability to provide routine medical care to another person without needing a medical license.

Libertas supports this bill. A parent should have the ability to enlist the help of a competent teenager or adult to assist with the medical care of their needy child instead of having to hire a licensed individual first.

Personal Delivery Devices Amendments (HB 277) Support

This bill made changes to the personal delivery device regulations so they could operate (slowly) on roads as well as sidewalks/crosswalks.

Prosecutor Data Collection Amendments (HB 288) Support

This bill requires criminal justice agencies to collect and report data about the cases they process.

Libertas supports this bill. This information will provide great insight into the way the legal system truly operates, which is not only great for public transparency but prosecutors as well.

Occupational Licensing Amendments (HB 290) Support

This bill reduces licensure requirements for court reporters, hunting guides, and those who manufacture or repair bedding, upholstered furniture, quilted clothing, or filling material.

Libertas supports this bill. This legislation helps show how permits and registration requirements can serve as an alternative to traditional licensing.

Yurt Amendments (HB 297) Support

This bill exempts yurts from needing a permit and inspections.

Libertas supports this bill. Just like a person can pitch a tent and cook a meal, thy should be able to do so with a yurt without bureaucratic overreach.

Conviction Integrity Units (HB 324) Support

This bill helps ensures a process exists to provide guidance for prosecutors around the state to review cases that may have been unfair.

Libertas supports this bill. Nothing in the bill binds prosecutors to set up a conviction integrity unit, but if they do, they will have good guidelines to follow.

Special Needs Scholarship Amendments (HB 332) Support

This bill creates a scholarship program so families of special needs children can provide them the best education possible.

Libertas supports this bill. Utah families need these kinds of opportunities for their special needs children in order to provide the best education possible.

Impaired Driving Amendments (HB 350) Oppose

This bill increases the penalty for someone driving with a drug metabolite (and isn't impaired as a result) and who then injures another person as a result of simple negligence.

Libertas opposes this bill. Elevating penalties on a person who isn't impaired, but who made a simple driving error, is inappropriate and contrary to recent criminal justice reforms.

Internal Investigation Amendments (HB 353) Support

This bill prevents criminally accused agencies from investigating themselves for those criminal claims.

Libertas supports this bill. It's a short and simple yet powerful piece of legislation that needs to pass to establish legal boundaries for criminal allegations.

Child Abuse and Endangerment Amendments (HB 365) Support

This bill lowers penalties that exist for when parents expose their children to drugs in certain circumstances, making sure that penalties are attached to actual danger and harm and not theoretical problems that don't deserve a penalty.

Libertas supports this bill. It keeps the penalties focused on actual problems.

Electronic Cigarette Amendments (HB 375) Oppose

This bill prohibits the manufacture, distribution, sale, possession, and use of any electronic cigarette, except for people over 21 who are in the military or who are the spouse or child of someone in the military.

Libertas opposes this bill. Criminalizing people for using an e-cigarette device is extremely unreasonable and overly punitive, especially in regards to those who use these devices as a smoking cessation practice.

Cost Cutting Reporting Requirements (HB 395) Support

This bill requires the creation of a tool whereby state employees can report areas of government where costs can be reduced.

Libertas supports this bill. Those with knowledge of bureaucratic bloat should be empowered to better provide that information for review by those who can use it to reform the budget.

Regulatory Waiver Process (HB 402) Support

This bill would allow for the creation of an insurance sandbox in the state of Utah.

Libertas supports this bill. Insurance is a huge cost that both enterprises and consumers face alike, and this sandbox offers an opportunity for companies to experiment with goods and services that could improve the quality of life for Utah consumers and businesses alike.

Inmate Phone Provider Amendments (HB 405) Support

This bill caps charges on inmate phone services in Utah.

Libertas supports this bill. Exorbitant fees should not be charged to an incarcerated person looking to maintain their connection with family members and others.

Cosmetology License Amendments (HB 410) Support

This bill exempts from licensure a business owner who only dries, styles, arranges, dresses, curls, hot irons, shampoos, or conditions hair.

Libertas supports this bill. There is no public health danger to simply treating hair in this fashion, so it should be exempt from licensure.

Autonomous Vehicle Amendments (HB 414) Support

This bill establishes regulations regarding how a self-driving vehicle must operate in order to be used for ride-hailing services for an unaccompanied minor.

Medical Cannabis Card Renewal Amendments (HB 425) Support

This bill allows a medical cannabis cardholder to have a one year renewal option on their card under certain circumstances.

Libertas supports this bill. Medical visits are costly, especially for patients who have to pay for their medicine out of pocket. This option helps reduce those costs.

Property Tax Relief Amendments (HB 430) Support

This bill would require counties to make property tax deferrals available to anyone over the age of 65 who owns a home valued below $500,000.

Libertas supports this bill. A deferral doesn’t subsidize anyone, but allows seniors to stay in the home they worked so hard to purchase and pay off.

Conceal Carry Firearms Amendments (HB 472) Support

This bill allows a person who is 21 years or older to conceal carry a firearm without having to obtain a permit from the government.

Libertas supports this bill. An individual should not need a permission slip to exercise a fundamental right.

Criminal Justice Revisions (HB 484) Support

This bill makes several changes, including preventing interest from accruing on fees owed by incarcerated persons, and allowing the Board of Pardons and Parole to reduce or waive fees owed by a person after they have made consistent payments.

Libertas supports this bill. It provides flexibility and a reasonable approach to several criminal justice issues.

Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program (HB 4003) Support

This bill creates a scholarship program so families of special needs children can provide them the best education possible. Qualifying families will be able to use a percentage of the funds, already dedicated to their child's education, to attend a private school or purchase education curriculum and services that will best help their child.

Libertas supports this bill. It reflects a modest compromise with the governor's office while still retaining its core features, which will be a huge help to many families of special needs children.

Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Amendments (SB 23) Support

This bill loosens licensure portability requirements, making it easier for people newly residing in Utah to get a license to work in their profession.

Libertas supports this bill. It improves licensure portability and makes it easier for people to come and work in their desired profession in Utah.

Circuit Breaker Amendments (SB 35) Support

Under this bill, eligible low-income seniors would qualify for a larger amount of property tax credits.

Libertas supports this bill. It will help more seniors stay in their homes that they worked so hard to purchase, and increase the availability of renter's credits for those who qualify as well.

Affordable Housing Amendments (SB 39) Oppose

This bill allocates 30 million taxpayer dollars, and 10 million dollars every year in the future, to be spent on subsidizing "affordable housing" for individuals who qualify.

Libertas opposes this bill. Redistribution of wealth is not a proper role of government, and while we are sympathetic to the financial burden caused by rising housing costs, it is improper for taxpayers to foot the bill to subsidize a preferred lifestyle by those who would receive such funds.

Sales and Use Tax Modifications (SB 41) Support

This bill would eliminate one form of double taxation in the production of oil and gas by creating a sales tax exemption.

Libertas supports this bill. Sales taxes should be reserved for final consumption and not levied on the intermediary phases of production.

License Plate Position Amendments (SB 85) Oppose

This bill makes the failure to have a front license plate a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to pull you over and give you a ticket.

Libertas opposes this bill. We favor legislation that repeals the requirement to have a front license plate, as one is sufficient for identification by law enforcement. Further, the widespread non-compliance with the current law gives far too broad of discretion to the government to begin enforcing this as a primary offense to pull people over and potentially cause other altercations.

Economic Development Amendments (SB 95) Oppose

Thus bill removes USTAR from code and moves $10 million of funding to economic development programs in rural Utah.

Libertas opposes this bill. Redistributing taxpayer dollars to rural economic development is not the proper role of government.

Emerging Technology Talent Initiative (SB 96) Oppose

This bill spends $5 million of taxpayer dollars on workforce development programs.

Libertas opposes this bill. Utah already spends an enormous sum on a bloated and outdated higher education system that needs to better respond to market forces. Universities should invest in "deep tech" programs with existing budgets on their own, not with new money from taxpayers.

Marriage and Bigamy Amendments (SB 102) Support

This bill reduces the level of penalty for polygamy, in order to reduce abuse within communities that live in fear of reporting to law enforcement and integrating into society.

Libertas supports this bill. Broadly targeting an entire community and religious lifestyle has enabled certain abusers such as Warren Jeffs to weaponize the law and oppress those who fear reporting to law enforcement and integrating into society.

Income Tax Rate Reduction Amendments (SB 107) Support

This bill provides for small income tax cuts over time through a revenue trigger tied to Utah's GDP growth and income tax growth.

Libertas supports this bill. The result should be small gradual cuts in income tax rates over time as Utah's economy continues to thrive and income tax receipts continue to grow at a faster rate than normal

Medical Cannabis Amendments (SB 121) Support

This bill makes a number of improvements to Utah's medical cannabis program, including removing blister packs, allowing for past medical cannabis charges to be expunged, and changing Utah's metabolite law.

Libertas supports this bill. It makes a number of recommendations that we feel are helpful to patients and the program.

Small Business Job Creation Tax Credit Act (SB 123) Oppose

This bill proposes $30 million in tax credits to "invest" in businesses that have fewer than 300 employees and less than $10 million in annual income.

Libertas opposes this bill. Government should not pick winners and losers by creating unfair competition through tax credits handed out to certain companies and not others.

Community Reinvestment Agency Amendments (SB 163) Oppose

This bill authorizes a community reinvestment agency to levy a property tax and divert property taxes from new growth within the boundaries away from other taxing entities like school districts.

Libertas opposes this bill. It creates a new taxing entity and diverts tax revenue from the purposes for which it intended.

Social Impact Services (SB 164) Oppose

This bill would allow local governments to impose additional taxes for the broad purposes of "promoting economic opportunity," "improving human health and well-being," and "promoting child and youth development," among other uses.

Libertas opposes this bill. Allowing the government to take money from people for such broad purposes is a dangerous precedent and unreasonably empowers local governments.

Transportation Utility Fee Amendments (SB 169) Support

This bill changes the statutory definition of a transportation utility fee by simply removing the word "tax" since a fee is not a tax.

Libertas supports this bill. Our victory in the recent lawsuit against Pleasant Grove over the adoption of this fee (an illegal tax) made clear that this confusion in the definition needed to change.

Personal Privacy Protection Act (SB 171) Support

This bill prohibits the government from demanding or disclosing a list of donors to a non-profit organization.

Libertas supports this bill. This information should remain private from government's public records so that there is no chilling effect from its public release and use by dissenting groups.

Disrupting Legislative or Official Meetings (SB 173) Oppose

This bill creates a new crime for disrupting or disturbing an official meeting or engaging in any disorderly conduct in such a meeting. This crime increases with repeated instances.

Libertas opposes this bill. This bill is too subjective as to what it means to "disrupt or disturb" an official meeting, and there is already a crime (a lower one) for disorderly conduct that can be used.

Correctional Facility Transparency Requirements (SB 185) Support

This bill requires county jails and prisons to publicly disclose their standards.

Libertas supports this bill. For years, jails have been trying to claim that their standards are copyrighted and not subject to public review. These are government agencies that should be open and transparent, which this bill facilitates.

Special Events Sales Tax Obligations (SB 194) Support

This bill ensures that individuals who are exempt from paying sales tax don't suddenly have to pay the tax, or fill out tax forms, when they participate in a special event (e.g. a farmer's market).

Libertas supports this bill. We operate an annual children's market and the Tax Commission has tried to argue that the children, who are exempt, have to fill out complicated tax forms simply because they participate in our market. This is wrong and this bill fixes the issue.

Professional Licensing Amendments (SB 201) Support

This bill limits the ability of the government to revoke a person's professional license for criminal conduct in certain circumstances.

Libertas supports this bill. Individuals have the right to work and should not be restricted in their profession without substantial danger to the public justifying the restriction.

Body Camera Amendments (SB 210) Support

This bill provides remedies for a defendant under narrow circumstances when a police officer failed to record or preserve body camera footage of their encounter.

Libertas supports this bill. Officers under an obligation to record their interaction with the public should be held accountable when they fail to do so, should that footage have been beneficial to the defendant's case.

Facial Recognition Provisions (SB 218) Support

This bill restricts the ability of government to use facial recognition technology for law enforcement purposes.

Libertas supports this bill. The government has been using this technology for a decade in Utah without public knowledge or legislative oversight. This bill imposes important restrictions.

Business Input Sales Tax Amendments (SB 222) Support

This bill exempts certain property from sales tax if it's used as a business input.

Libertas supports this bill. Taxes should be on the final product or service rendered, not the various inputs used by a business to produce that product or service.

Raffle Amendments (SB 242) Support

This bill exempts charitable raffles from the state's gambling laws, ensuring that legitimately charitable raffles are not subject to prohibition.

Libertas supports this bill. These types of fundraisers are common and harmless and should therefore not be illegal.