Another session of the Utah State Legislature is in the books, and, as always, the lege passed some good laws and some terrible ones.
They also passed a bill that would allow permanent Daylight Saving Time. A couple other Mountain Time Zone states have to pass their own versions before it can take effect, but that’s OK, we’ll wait.
Of course, this is still Utah, and the leggies didn’t even consider HJR007, which would have put our state in the YES camp for finally ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Maybe next year? Yeah, probably not.
All told, there were more than 500 bills passed, and even more rejected. What we have below is our report card on some of the lege’s more talked-about bills—how your reps repped themselves in 2020, with grades handed out accordingly:
A = Yay! Welcome to the 21 Century, lege!
B = Not bad, but try harder.
C = Meh.
D = This is why my out-of-state friends and relatives don’t want to visit me.
F = This is why my out-of-state friends and relatives did a Kickstarter to help me GTFO of Utah.
Kudos to the lege for passing SB102, which decriminalizes polygamy, moving it from a felony to an infraction—although plural marriage really shouldn’t have any level of illegality. We’re all about letting consenting adults be consenting adults, and Utahns should feel free to be as sexually unchained as they want to be. Polygamy ain’t just for horny reality-show Mormons anymore! Grade: B+
Brad Daw, R - Orem, is a puppet and Gayle Ruzicka and her Utah Eagle Forum are his puppetmasters. This was proven when the UEF talked Daw into writing up a bill that would have banned hormone therapy and surgery for transgender people under 18, a horrible idea that would have likely driven trans kids to self-harm, even suicide. But the good folks at Equality Utah managed to corral Daw for a meeting before the lege session began, introducing him to parents of trans kids and imploring him to keep an open mind, and yeah, we really did just say Daw’s name and “open mind” in the same sentence.
Daw eventually toned down the rhetoric, thanks in part to an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune by Christy Florence, the wife of a trans man, the mother of a trans daughter and ... Daw’s own damn sister! “He knows my daughter and he knows my husband; but he knows little to nothing of their journey,” Florence wrote. “He knows little about the journey of any transgender individual and their family.” Ohhhh SNAP! Daw cooled his titties and watered the bill down until it became a study on hormone therapy, which Equality Utah said wasn’t needed because there’s already plenty of science out there about that. What was left of the bill was defeated, and that loud, crunching noise you may have heard at the time was probably Ruzicka’s face crinkling up. Grades: A+ for Equality Utah; B+ for Daw; 💩for the Utah Eagle Forum.
Rep. Paul Ray, R - Clearfield, initially wanted to ban vaping and e-cigarettes for everyone—teens and adults. Ray is the same panicked soul who claimed last fall that 84% of all vape juices contained illegal drugs, a dubious stat he spouted after several deaths nationwide were attributed to people who had vaped black-market THC, not regular over-the-counter liquid. His bill, HB375, went nowhere, and rightly so. Good on the lege for not giving into hysteria—although Ray seems like the kind of guy who thinks that 500 rolls of toilet paper will somehow stop COVID-19. Grade: B+
Shocker! The lege actually paid attention to the people they’re supposed to be serving when it repealed the much-hated grocery tax bill it passed in a December special session. Ordinary citizens setting up petition drives at Harmons really worked, especially when Gov. Gary Herbert came out and publicly pearl-clutched the popular Utah grocery chain, saying that he was “disappointed in Harmon’s actions.” For letting people do that whole grass-roots democracy thing? Whatever, Herbie. Grade: A
The lege approved HB222, which will give kids—specifically kids who live in rural areas of Utah—access to breakfast programs in their schools. The cost will be completely covered by the federal government, and it was supported by advocacy group Utahns Against Hunger, which estimates that 146,000 kids in the state struggle with hunger issues. A no-brainer bill, right? But there always has to be an asshole, and this time it was Sen. David Hinkins, R - Assholeville, (is that how you spell Orangeville?), who came out against it, saying that “Parents should be parents. I mean, my mother fixed my breakfast, my wife fixed my kids’ breakfast ... when are we going to let parents be parents? Why all of a sudden are we the parents of all the kids? I just don't get it.” So Hinkins basically admitted he’s either a shitty cook or, you know, that women belong in the kitchen. Of course, Hinkins is a typical GOPper who cares more about fetuses than what happens to them after they pop out of the womb, since he voted for SB174, the passed bill which would trigger an immediate ban on all abortions in Utah if the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade. Grades: A for the lege; a big, fat F for Hinkins.
Speaking of, the male-sponsored HB364 would have required pregnant women who chose to have an abortion to get a sonogram before the procedure. The doctor would also have been required to describe what the fetus looked like as well as have the woman listen to its heartbeat. Invasive, weird and generally fucked-up? Yes. So much so that just prior to the vote, all six women senators—four Democrats and two Republicans—walked out of the Senate chamber in protest. The penis-privileged voted for the bill, 16-7, but it thankfully died in the House, not before the bill’s sponsor and general dickwad Curt Bramble could claim that it was merely about giving women as much information about their pregnancy as possible—as if women have no idea what terminating a pregnancy means.
The lege GOPpers still managed to pass two other abortion bills—the aforementioned SB174 and SB67, which requires medical facilities to either bury or cremate fetal remains, instead of disposing them at the hospital or clinic, leaving that decision up to the patient. Sen. Luz Escamilla tried to fight all the abortion-shaming with her amendment to criminalize masturbation, since, when you think about it, Utah dudes are the state’s biggest baby-killers. Every sperm is sacred! Grade: D-
The flaccid tops and bossy bottoms in the lege passed HB243, which would require warning labels to be displayed on pornographic material that read: “Exposing minors to obscene material may damage or negatively impact minors.” In response, the smartasses on porn site XHamster trolled the lege hard with a Utah-only warning label of their own: “Porn use may lead to decreased stress, increased happiness, and lower rates of teen pregnancy, divorce, and sexual assault. However, it’s only for adults.” A wicked burn! Sponsored by Pleasant Grove Republican Rep. Brady Brammer (a.k.a. Spanky Peachybutt, according to an online porn name generator we found) and Woods Cross Sen. Todd Weiler, who always looks like he’s gooped a gallon of Astroglide in his hair, the bill awaits Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature—but, taxpayers, expect lawsuits from the monied adult entertainment industry if Herb actually signs it. Perhaps the guv should rub this one out. Grade: F
Rex Shipp, R-Cedar City, tried to get a bill passed that actually discouraged the removal of racist and offensive Native American names and images from Utah schools and other civic buildings. Like Cedar High School’s mascot since 1943—the Redmen. The Iron County School Board voted last year to change the name to the Reds, which is what apparently raised Shipp’s ire. He cloaked his bill in hollow Natives-are-great language like, “Utah has a long history of positive contributions of Native Americans” and “Use of these names, images or symbols can be authentic, appropriate and accurate when used carefully with cultural sensitivity,” but several tribes who spoke out against his bill weren’t buying it, and it went down like a sinking Shipp. Grades: A for the lege; F for Shipp-for-brains.
You can’t have a session without somebody wanting to legislate alcohol, and there were several bills doing just that this year.
One of them, HB399, at first required that cops ask drunk drivers where they had been doing their imbibing of the Satan Sauce. That stipulation was dropped, but the rest of it passed—including language that prohibits any business from saying their booze is “stronger,” because Utah.
Another bill that passed, HB157, is fantastic in one way, ridiculous in another. If Herbert signs this, you’ll be able to bring home up to nine liters of wine—which is about a case—from out of state, no questions asked or prison time threatened. It would also allow adults to sign up for wine-of-the-month clubs, but instead of that wine getting delivered to your home, it would have to be delivered to one of the state-run liquor stores for you to pick up—and still pay Utah’s insane 88% markup. Perhaps someday we’ll all be able to sell whiskey shots out of our belly-buttons in the middle of Temple Square, but until such a glorious day arrives, we’ll have to be content with making Costco runs to Vegas and smuggling that deliciously cheaper hootch back home across the state border like everybody else. Grade: C+
TRUMPAfter wanting to censure Sen. Mitt Romney for voting to impeach the president, lege Republicans eventually lost their hard-on and instead passed a citation fellating Trump for doing so many, many great things for Utah, like growing the economy and increasing state employment numbers—even though those sections of the citation, written in a weird font that looked like one of those things you get at the office for beating your monthly sales goals, should’ve ended with a resounding “Thanks, Obama!” No word if House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams will issue a follow-up proclamation thanking Trump for killing hundreds with COVID-19, but those two are such b*tches that one will probably be arriving in D.C. any day now. Grade: F-