First Week of Legislature Brings Controversial Bills


By Representative Christine Watkins, District 67

Two bills are making headlines as we head into the legislative session. The first bill is HB 257, sponsored by Representative Kera Birkland. HB 257 is Sex-Based Designations for Privacy and Anit-bullying, and Women’s Opportunities.

The bill clearly states that dressing rooms and bathrooms designated for females or males cannot be used by anyone that is not born that way. The school district or public entity will provide private restrooms and changing rooms for people who identify differently than their birth sex. New construction of state-owned buildings will be required to build more private restroom rooms for those who are uncomfortable in the standard restrooms.

BH 257 also defines “Father” as a parent of the male sex and “Female” as the characteristic of an individual whole biological reproductive system is of the general type that functions to produce ova. There is a lot more to this bill and if you would like to read it, go and under “Bills” look up HB 257.

The other bill is HB 261, Equal Opportunity Initiatives, by Representative Katy Hall. This bill prohibits institutions of higher education, the public education system, and governmental employers from taking certain actions and engaging in discriminatory practices. What this means is that any of these institutions cannot require an individual before, during, or after admission or employment to provide certain submissions or attend certain training that promotes differential treatment.

The legislature will require surveys and individuals will have a way to file a complaint if institutions are not compliant. This addresses the issues surrounding the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practices that many schools have been using. There is a lot of information that you can Google to read about DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).

I believe both bills will go through committee quickly and be voted on in the first week of the session. I will be supporting both bills. The Utah Legislature has a super majority, and I am sure both bills will pass.

Another interesting bill by Representative Michael Kohler is HB 255 Property Tax Assessment Modifications. This bill deals with property tax assessments. It requires a county assessor to classify types of real property for purposes of property tax assessments and make it public.

The classifications shall include (A) primary residential, (B) commercial, (C) vacant land, (D) secondary residential and (E) non-taxable. The commission can take corrective action if the commission believes that the assessor does not follow the mass appraisal. This has not been done before, and this modification will allow for corrective actions against a county assessor.

Remember, you can go to and on the top right there are three bars. Click on them and it will give you areas to go to. Bills is one of those areas and you can type in the bill number.

My car is packed (literally) and I am on my way to Salt Lake City to begin the session. We appropriation chairs have been called in for an 8:00 a.m. meeting on opening day. I am sure House and Senate Leadership will be telling us how much money we have to fund the programs and requests that come before our committees. Thanks again for your support.

Phone: (435) 650-1969
Facebook: Representative Christine Watkins

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