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Takeaways From The Utah Legislature's 2020 General Session


The Utah Legislature ended its 45-day general session at midnight Thursday. 

Heading into the 2020 general session near the end of January, the newly passed tax reform law loomed over legislators’ heads, as a citizen referendum gathered enough signatures to halt implementation of the law and put its fate to voters in November. Legislators repealed the tax law on the second day of the session.

With the tax reform failure, lawmakers scrapped their budget plans and started over. In the end, they approved a $20 billion budget, with $23 million allocated for statewide mental health efforts; $16 million for the state’s COVID-19 response; and $10 million for affordable housing.

Although legislators said there would be no further efforts to change the state’s tax code this session, two bills passed the full legislature that would change how the state funds education. Senate Joint Resolution 9proposes a constitutional amendment to allow lawmakers to use income tax revenue from education to fund social services for children and people with disabilities. As a companion to that, House Bill 357 puts $75 million into an education account and includes student enrollment growth and inflation in funding decisions. That bill only goes into effect if voters approve the SJR 9 constitutional amendment in November.

In all, lawmakers passed more than 500 bills.

Lawmakers introduced three bills related to abortion — two of them passed. SB 174 triggers a ban on abortion in Utah if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The bill prohibits abortion, except in a few circumstances, and would charge whoever performs the abortion, be it a physician or the pregnant person themself, with a felony. The legislature also passed SB 67, which requires the remains of an aborted or miscarried fetus to be either cremated or buried. Lawmakers did not pass a bill that required a pregnant person to have an ultrasound before an abortion.

The legislature also passed amendments to the independent redistricting commission established by 2018’s Proposition 4 ballot initiative.

For a more in-depth recap of the Utah Legislature’s 2020 general session, tune into the legislative report Monday at 8:15 a.m. on the Local News Hour.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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