Utah governor signs 163 bills, including bill banning abortions solely for Down syndrome

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a slew of bills Friday, including a bill that outlaws abortions solely for Down syndrome diagnosis.

Herbert has signed a total of 163 bills, according to a statement from the governor's office, bringing the total number of bills passed by the 2019 Utah Legislature so far to 187.

HB166 is almost identical to a failed bill last year that would make performing an abortion for the sole reason of a Down syndrome diagnosis a class A misdemeanor — but this year's bill includes a "trigger" provision, meaning it won't take effect until a court rules on its constitutionality.

A legal challenge is now before the U.S. Supreme Court over a similar ban in Indiana.

Another abortion ban bill — one that has also seen pushback from women's rights advocates and warnings from the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah that it would be met with a lawsuit — still sits on Herbert's desk. It would restrict Utah's window for legal abortions from 22 weeks to 18 weeks.

Earlier Friday, Herbert also signed a concurrent resolution urging the federal government to resolve the national medical marijuana banking issue.

SCR7, a resolution that urges President Donald Trump and Congress to "remove the barriers that prohibit the medical cannabis industry from legally accessing banking services," was among the most notable pieces of legislation signed into law Friday.

The resolution comes after the Utah Legislature legalized some forms of medical marijuana in a special session to replace a ballot initiative passed by voters last year.

However, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act doesn't solve a problem that's vexed every state that has legalized cannabis: Most banks and credit unions don't want to work in the marijuana business and risk violating federal law — an issue that forces marijuana vendors to deal in cash and become easy targets for crime.

Because marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, distribution remains federally illegal, despite legalization at the state level in many states. A draft bill that would create a "safe harbor" for banks and credit unions got its first hearing in Congress last month, six years after it was first introduced.

Among other bills, Herbert signed HB16, a bill that makes it a criminal offense to sell and use fake urine to defraud a drug test.

Herbert also signed HB20, a bill that toughens statutes related to human trafficking, including creating a first-degree felony for trafficking a vulnerable adult and clarifying that human trafficking of a child is an offense for which no statute of limitations applies.

The governor also signed into law HB150, a bill that enacts licensing and operational standards on trampoline parks, which have gone without safety regulations in much of Utah.

Among other pieces of legislation signed Friday:

  • HB62, which increases the penalty for assault committed by a prisoner against an officer, employee or volunteer when the prisoner throws or propels a substance or object and causes substantial bodily injury.
  • HB81, which directs the Utah State Board of Education to reimagine how public school counselors serve students and adopt rules that prohibit them from performing certain duties.
  • HB149, which would allow drivers of motorcycles to "lane filter," or pass another vehicle that is stopped in the same direction of travel in the same lane.
  • HB203, which modifies the state definitions of a homeless shelter, allowing smaller shelters — including a little-known, 27-bed shelter in Vernal — to be eligible to receive state funds.
  • SB84, which raises safety inspection fee maximums from $7 to $14 for motorcycles, from $15 to $30 for motor vehicles, and from $20 to $40 for four-wheel drive or split axle vehicles.
  • SB101, which recognizes Navajo code talkers by designating Aug. 14 as Navajo Code Talker Day and designates portions of roadways in San Juan County as the Navajo Code Talker Highway.
  • SCR6, a concurrent resolution supporting the development and integration of "advanced" nuclear reactor technology as a way of supporting Utah's economic growth.
  • SB106, which allows certain mental health services provided in Utah public schools to be billed to Medicaid.

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Katie McKellar


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