Ban on public e-cigarettes passed; Bonds with Israel recognized

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Should public school students be required to recite the pledge every day?Currently, state law only requires elementary school students to recite the pledge daily. The bill would apply the law to all public and charter schools, grades K-12. Students can opt out, if they choose - current law says a student may be excused from reciting the pledge with a written note from the parent or legal guardian.

"I believe we need to make the Pledge of Allegiance more meaningful for our students," said the sponsor of SB223, Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-West Jordan.

House passes ban on using e-cigarettes, hookas in public

The Utah House approved a proposal Tuesday to ban the smoking of hookah pipes and e-cigarettes in public places, after opponents held a hookah pipe smoking demonstration on the Capitol steps then held signs in the gallery urging the bill's defeat.

The bill, HB245, would add those devices to Utah Indoor Clean Air Act's ban on smoking in public places.HB245 would allow existing hookah bars to operate as they do now until at least 2017. However, that means the businesses would have to return to Capitol Hill in five years to lobby for an extension.

Rep. Matheson addresses House and Senate

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, addressed the Utah House and Senate Tuesday. He told the Senate that the nation cannot abide a "patchwork" of 50 different state immigration laws but it is unlikely Congress will take on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform any time soon.

"It's safe to say in this session of Congress there is no robust agenda when it comes to immigration reform," he said.

Matheson also said he is "bullish" about development of the nation's energy resources and prospects for improved energy independence while addressing the House. He said he supports policies to increase natural gas production, along with geothermal, wind, solar, coal, oil shale and tar sands. The nation's energy policies should encourage careful development of new technologies and energy sources, then let the marketplace ultimately decide, he said.

Senate cements bonds with Israel

The Utah Senate, in a resolution passed unanimously Tuesday, recognized Utah's cultural, economic, military and security bonds to Israel.

SJR18, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Orem, also encourages Gov. Gary Herbert to embark on a trade mission to Israel.

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said he recently took part in a trade mission to Israel with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"Not only am I glad I did it, I'd love to do it again," Waddoups said.

Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah thanked the Senate for passage of the resolution. Historically, Rabbi Zippel said, nations and people that have supported Israel have been "blessed with tremendous success and prosperity."

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, co-sponsored the measure in the Utah House of Representatives.

Teens may be restricted from using tanning beds

A bill that would penalize minors for using tanning beds without parental consent, passed through the Senate Wednesday.

SB41 sponsor Sen. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake City, called it a "big win," as the fifth substitute of the original bill now heads to the Utah House of Representatives. Supporters say it is a step in the right direction, as the incidence of melanoma continues to grow in Utah.

"There is no doubt that ultraviolet light is a carcinogen," said Dr. Sancy Leachman, a Huntsman Cancer Institute dermatologist. She said ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds causes mutations in the skin and does DNA damage, leading to various types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma being the most common.

Contributing: Marjorie Cortez, Ladd Brubaker and Wendy Leonard

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