With Governor Cox officially signing bills passed during the 2022 legislative session into law, the proceedings of Utah’s 2022 General Session are concluding. The governor’s signature is solidifying a productive year for freedom-focused policies within Utah.
This year, Libertas and Utah’s lawmakers were able to make large strides in preserving and expanding the freedoms of citizens and businesses in topics spanning from criminal justice to occupational licensing.
To highlight some of the great freedom focused policies passed in the state, below is Libertas Institute’s Best of Utah – 2022 Legislative Session Edition:
- Taking the top spot is House Bill 167, sponsored by Representative Brady Brammer. This bill will go into effect in May 2022 and will commission a task force to explore psychotherapy drugs for mental health treatment. This task force will report on its findings by October of 2023. This bill is crucial as Utah has some of the worst mental health outcomes in the country. With this legislation, the first step towards expanding treatment options for those with mental health disorders is being taken.
- Utah has a been leader in the regulatory sandbox movement. Going into last year’s legislative session, Utah had already created multiple separate and distinct sandboxes, but this year it became clear that Utah’s many regulatory sandboxes could be even better under just one dedicated department. Thus, Representative Maloy, who sponsored the universal sandbox last year, sponsored HB 243, which streamlines and consolidates all of the sandboxes into one. This bill will also go into effect during this summer.
- Rounding out the top three is Senate Bill 25. This bill will allow homeowners, over the age of 75 and with an income of less than $65,000 a year, to apply to forgo the payment of property tax until the sale of their home or a transfer of ownership takes place. This will allow any seniors that are struggling financially to gain much-needed relief and will make sure this population does not have to worry about becoming homeless. Senate Bill 25 already is up and running, with retroactive operation dating to January 1st, 2022.
- The Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship established two years ago is designed to help families of special needs students find an education that works best for their children. However, a problem existed with this scholarship, families could not afford to send the siblings of these students to the same school. Families were then left to decide if the benefits of specialized education or the support from siblings were more important. Senate Bill 62 from Senator Lincoln Fillmore solved this dilemma for families by expanding eligibility to include the siblings of those receiving this scholarship.
- House Bill 171 ends the practice of juvenile deception by law enforcement in Utah. If deception is used during the interrogation, any statement made by the child is presumed to be involuntary, meaning it cannot be used against them in court. This bill works to protect minors under the age of 18 from falsely confessing to a crime they didn’t commit.
- House Bill 386 and Senate Bill 191 essentially create an education-based sandbox. These bills allow teachers and schools to create and implement innovative educational programs in their schools to meet the demands they face daily.
- Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Senator Curtis Bramble, establishes the Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Office. The Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Office will conduct a review for each application that seeks to newly regulate an occupation, review each occupation that requires a license at least once every ten years, and review and respond to legislative inquiries over occupational licensing matters. This office will begin its work this year and shall stand in effect until 2034 unless otherwise extended.
- House Bill 146 amends the “food truck freedom” law to further reduce complexity for food truck owners. In current law, food truck owners must get a business license in each city in which they operate. Under HB 146, food truck owners will only have to get their original business license, and then they can legally operate anywhere in the state.
These bills represent steps Libertas is taking in the realms of technological innovation, privacy, education, occupational licensing, local government, and criminal justice. Libertas will continue to push for innovation and choice in education, increased personal privacy, reasonable occupational licensing, better criminal justice policy, and less government regulation.
With each passing year, Utah is proving that it is on the cutting edge of state-focused policies. With the steps of the Legislature, Utah’s policies are being looked at as a roadmap to how states can implement compassionate policies that reduce government control but expand economic and social prosperity.