Sometimes, bills that don’t pass the Legislature matter just as much as those that do.
By the time Utah’s legislative session ended last month, hundreds of bills were passed and signed by the governor. In 2022, there were quite a few bills that you might not have heard about simply because they failed to pass or because the worst parts were amended out of the bill.
Here are a few examples of bills that Libertas Institute actively worked against to successfully stop from moving forward:
House Bill 340 would have put Utah on a path of beginning to legitimize the use of genealogical DNA databases for criminal investigations without meeting Fourth Amendment protections for searches and seizures. This bill did not advance out of its initial committee hearing.
House Bill 170 sought to create additional taxing authority for local school districts to fund additional school resource officers (SROs) using property taxes. Not only is this a poor tax policy, but we also believe that law enforcement are generally not the answer to behavioral issues in public schools, especially when no crime has been committed. This bill did not advance out of its initial committee hearing.
House Bill 133 would have required background checks on gun sales between private individuals, thereby limiting an individual’s ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights. This bill did not advance out of its initial committee hearing.
House Bill 372 and House Bill 407 each attempted to restrict the usage of short-term rentals by private property owners. Regulations around short-term rentals are already restrictive in many jurisdictions in Utah. Without a demonstration of actual harm, individuals should generally be allowed to use their private property as they see fit, especially when it is owner-occupied.
Senate Bill 198 sought to increase regulations for online speech on social media platforms. Giving additional powers to government to compel private companies to operate their businesses how regulators see fit is a path Utah should avoid going down. This bill did not advance from the Senate floor.
In the end, we do more than just encourage legislators to pass a variety of good policies. Libertas Institute also serves as a watchdog for legislation that will negatively impact the rights and lives of Utahns — a monumental task, considering the 800+ bills that are numbered each year!