2023 Bills

HB 266: Restricting Amber Alert Abuse

This bill passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously. Review our tracker for more information.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it aligns with our principles and should therefore be passed into law.

In December 2021, an Amber Alert was issued for four girls taken from South Jordan. Hundreds of thousands of Utahns were alerted (typically with a loud, obnoxious tone) from their phones, making them aware of the incident.

The girls were taken by their mother and found safe. The mother was not allowed to have unsupervised visitation, which is what prompted the alert. Shortly after, Senator Todd Weiler tweeted about this:

It’s not simply talk on Twitter. Now, Representative Ryan Wilcox is sponsoring House Bill 266 to revise how Amber Alerts are issued. The bill specifies that an alert may not be issued for:

  • a reported runaway; or
  • the taking, concealing, or detaining of a child by the child’s parent during a child custody dispute regarding the child, unless there is a credible threat of imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death to the child.

These reasonable restrictions will ensure that the alert system is used when appropriate but not for custody disputes in which the children are not at immediate risk.