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Bills to watch as 2013 Legislature winds down

By Andrew Wittenberg | Posted - Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:42pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The countdown is on at the Utah State Legislature: only 74 hours left in the 2013 general session. It promises to be an active three days, with more than 100 bills in play before the 2013 Legislature wraps on Thursday.

So far, there have been no major surprises. In fact, it may be the lack of surprise that is the big story.


Education always tops the legislative agenda. Hundreds filled the Capitol Rotunda Monday night, speaking to that with their attendance. They want more funding for public education.

"It's taken us 30 years to arrive where we're at today, and it's going to take us some time to go forward. It's why the governor and all of us are working so closely on developing a unified plan for education" said Mark Bouchard, chairman of the Prosperity 2020 coalition.

Prosperity 2020 is a partnership organized by Gov. Gary Herbert, aimed at creating a long-term plan to increase funding and reduce classroom size.

This year, it is likely Utah's Executive Appropriations Committee will push through a 2 percent increase in per-pupil spending. While Monday's audience applauded the move, the increase isn't nearly enough to cover the influx of students annually.

This isn't a major surprise, and will give lawmakers and educators time to solidify a long-term solution.


Also on Monday, the ban on Medicaid expansion passed the House of Representatives. It now moves to the Senate. While controversial, the vote was also not a surprise.

Gun laws

Gun laws have been a hot topic this session, and a number of bills are still in play. Concealed weapons amendments and target shooting restrictions are among those which have already passed through one house.

Non-discrimination law

Then there's the statewide non-discrimination bill. SB262 would ensure sexual orientation and gender identity aren't factors for employment and housing. But it won't be debated on the Senate floor because it's sponsors did not get the votes they needed.

State prison and SLC hotel

Lawmakers still have several other big issues to tackle — the state prison relocation development and potential tax breaks for a downtown hotel near the convention center, for example.

In for a surprise?

But Utahns all know by now they should never say never for a big surprise. We could see something at the last minute that gets everyone's attention.

Last year, the a controversial bill allowing schools to skip sex ed passed in the final days. The governor later vetoed the legislation.

In 2011, lawmakers rushed through sweeping changes which restricted the open records law, or GRAMA. Lawmakers later repealed those changes amid public outcry.

Andrew Wittenberg

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