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Gov. Cox works to sign bills supported in 2024 session before deadline

Legislators approved a bill expanding MIDA's taxing powers Feb. 29. It now heads to the governor's desk.
Parker Malatesta / KPCW News
Legislators approved a bill expanding MIDA's taxing powers Feb. 29. It now heads to the governor's desk.

While the 2024 legislative session ended March 1, Gov. Spencer Cox is still working through and signing legislation. Here's more on new laws affecting Utahns. 

Utah lawmakers passed a record 591 bills this session, surpassing last year's record of 575 bills. Legislators also passed a record budget of over $29 million. The budget includes an income tax cut, which KUER politics reporter Saige Miller says would save the average family around $65 per year.

The budget also allocated more funding for education. Spending per student increased by almost $200 to account for inflation and more money was set aside for the Utah Fits All scholarship program. The taxpayer-funded program provides K-12 students with up to $8,000 for the 2024-25 school year and was introduced through legislation from the 2023 session. This session lawmakers increased the $108-million program to $150 million. The money can be used for private school tuition, fees, tutoring and more.

Gov. Cox signed a bill Tuesday that changes rules related to sensitive materials, or “pornographic or indecent” instructional materials in schools. If three school districts or two school districts and five charter schools deem something an objective sensitive material, HB 29 mandates all 42 school districts in the state remove it. The Utah State Board of Education would have the final say whether or not to ban the material.

Lawmakers also passed laws meant to improve school safety. HB 84 requires all schools and classrooms to have a panic button. It also requires schools to have a resource officer, an armed security guard or a “school guardian.” A guardian is armed and trained to protect students during an active threat, but the individual doesn’t have the authority to act as law enforcement and can be a volunteer. HB 119 encourages teachers to carry a firearm at school. It also protects teachers from liability and mandates free training from local law enforcement.

SB 240, which prevents the public from seeing lawmakers’ calendars, was another controversial bill passed. Lawmakers’ calendars were previously made public under public record requests, but legislators argued the law already in place wasn’t meant to do that. It’s unclear how SB 240 will affect pending litigation on whether Attorney General Sean Reyes’ official calendar should’ve been made public. The State Records Committee ruled Attorney General Sean Reyes’ official calendar is a public record but the attorney general’s office is suing to overturn the ruling.

Some lawmakers also hope to be one step closer to having Utah’s 2020 trigger law banning abortions go into effect with the passage of HB 560. A bill banning abortions and the trigger law have been tied up in the Utah Supreme Court for years. Lawmakers repealed legislation banning abortion clinics with HB 560 in hopes of speeding up the court’s decision on the trigger law.

Gov. Cox has until March 21 to pass or veto legislation from the 2024 session. He can also allow bills to become law without his signature.