Legislative Update: E Cigarettes, the State Prison, and more.
Every legislative session we try to keep you informed with the latest bills being considered and those being signed into law. Each week during the session new bills and idea comes up, some become a permanent part of the Utah Code while others fail to gain much traction and eventually fall off. This past week there were several more controversial bills that made it to the floor. Here are a few of the highlights:
E cigarettes have been gaining in popularity over the past couple years. Smoke shops throughout the state of Utah have popped up all over focusing their business on these “healthier” alternatives to traditional tobacco products. Up to this point, e cigarettes have not been highly regulated either on the national level or the state level. That may be changing quickly at least in Utah. While a few cities in Utah have sought to regulate e cigarette sales, no state laws have been passed although a few related bills might become law following this session. Responding to concerns that e cigarettes are more attractive to younger adults and teenagers, Rep. Paul Ray of Clearfield introduced a bill to provide greater regulations on sales and warning labels required for these products. The bill has strong support from several legislators and activist groups against smoking. We anticipate a final bill will be passed into law and e cigarettes will ultimately become less accessible and be regulated much the same way as traditionally cigarettes.
Moving the State Prison
What seems to be an annual issue, the state legislature failed to get any bill passed the week moving the state prison out of the draper area. Some lawmakers have been pushing this issue for several years and the idea has strong public support. Nevertheless, because of the great costs associated with the project, and the massive undertaking in general, bills have been slow moving and are failing to this point. This is becoming the never ending issue that comes up every year at the capitol but never actually materializes into any action.
One bill with nearly unanimous support is a bill which would make distributing “intimate images” without a parties consent a third degree felony. This is commonly referred to as “revenge porn” and several other states including California have passed similar laws. While Utah laws already criminalizes pornography distribution and related issues, this new bill specifically addresses the issue of consent and calls for greater penalties.
Registration Fees on Eco Friendly Cars
One state senator proposed a bill which received quite a bit of back lash from the democrats in office. The bill would seek to increase the registration fees for electric and alternative fuel vehicles. Currently, owners of these eco friendly vehicles enjoy much lower registration costs. Those who oppose the proposed law argue incentives for eco friendly vehicles are important to keeping Utah air cleaner. This year Utah has experienced a great deal of negative press for having some of the worst air quality conditions in the entire country. Thus, any bill that can be argued to be contrary to clean air is proving not to be too popular.
More proposed laws are coming and we will of course keep you updated. Keep checking our blog to receive the latest legislative updates and information.