2013 Utah Legislative session quieter than usual

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Another year welcomed in a slew of new laws that will affect the citizens of Utah. The 2013 Utah State Legislative Session ended midnight Thursday.

Some of the more interesting laws passed included HB13, which makes it a misdemeanor to smoke in a vehicle if there is a child 15 and under inside. Also, HB103 will ban teens under 18 from talking on cell phones while driving. This bill was voted down 11-13 but then passed 17-12 after it was resurrected.

Also affecting teens, SB175 passed requiring all juniors in high school to take the ACT or SAT tests. The legislation provided money for assessment access to students and for a pretesting prep program. It is hoped that it will lead to more Utah teens being better prepared for college. Changes to the Utah liquor laws remained an up-and-down process. Legislation clarified the provision that it is legal for persons to be served drinks before they order their food.

A bill to do away with a solid wall separating liquor serving areas and the rest of restaurants, also referred to as the Zion Curtain, was voted down and will remain in effect. But SB167 passed to allow establishments with several locations to operate under a master liquor license instead of a separate for each location.

Medicaid expansion remained a hot button issue. HB391 was introduced and would have not allowed Utah to participate in federal Medicaid expansion.

By participating in the federal program, Utah would stand to save $6 million dollars in the first year and $16 million in the second year. But Legislators are worried that federal dollars will disappear and Utah would not be able to sustain the program. В In the final hours of the session a substitute HB391 added wording to allow the governor the discretion to submit a request for participation.

In other miscellaneous legislation, HB338 allows for a definition of fault in divorce for the purposes of determining alimony. HB165 adds Federal background checks on top of already required state background checks for persons applying for child care license.

Utah might also become a constitutional carry state if the governor signs HB76 into law. This expands the concealed carry laws to any person 21 and over to carry an unloaded concealed firearm without a permit. The governor has not revealed his plans for the bill. He has expressed some concerns over the bill previously.

Bills concerning air quality and anti-discrimination fell short again this year.

In total, over 500 bills were passed during the 2013 legislative session.

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