SALT LAKE CITY — The 2013 legislative session has officially ended and lawmakers have decided residents can carry a gun without a permit, they can drive 80 miles per hour in some areas of the state, but drinks with alcohol still need to be made behind the "Zion curtain" in some restaurants.
Those are just some highlights of hundreds of legislature-approved bills Gov. Gary Herbert will review in the next 20 days. He has three options -- sign, veto, or let the bill become law without his signature.
One thing he must decide is whether to approve Utah becoming a "constitutional carry" state. Most lawmakers favored a constitutional carry philosophy, which means no permit is needed to carry a firearm.
However, Thursday night Gov. Herbert expressed a different opinion after HB76 passed. He likes the idea of residents needing a concealed weapon permit.
I'm concerned about eliminating a program and a policy that's been very healthy in our state.
–Gov. Gary Herbert
"It's served our state very well," he said. "So I'm concerned about eliminating a program and a policy that's been very healthy in our state in protecting our Second Amendment rights."
The governor said he will give the bill proper consideration when it comes across his desk. In the meantime he won't say whether he plans to sign it, veto it, or let it go into law without his approval.
Another hot topic - Utah's liquor laws. This session lawmakers created a "master liquor license" for restaurant chains. Now they don't need a separate license for each location.
To offset the change, fines for restaurants caught serving alcohol to minors will increase. A first offense fine is $1,500, a second offense is $3,000 and a third offense is $10,000.
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Restaurants may also have their liquor licenses suspended as part of the penalty.
- A bill that would have provided tax credits for the development of a hotel near the Salt Palace Convention Center was narrowly defeated in the House on Thursday night.
- Both chambers of the Utah Legislature passed a bill Wednesday that funds and requires the administration of a college readiness assessment, such as the ACT or SAT, for high school students.
- Individuals who apply for child care licenses in Utah will be subject to an additional background check, thanks to a bill that passed through the Senate on Wednesday.
- A bill that would prohibit minors from talking on a cellphone while driving was reconsidered Wednesday and passed by the Senate, 17-12. The bill already passed the House and will now go to the governor for his consideration.
- Two immigration-related laws passed by the Utah Legislature in 2011 were effectively shelved until 2015 under a bill that achieved final passage in the Utah House of Representatives Thursday morning.
Earlier in the session the legislature passed a $13 billion budget without a tax increase. And public education received $68 million more to cover the cost of more than 13,000 new students coming into the system.
Contributing: Richard Piatt