Bill to remove slavery from Utah’s constitution passes out of committee

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A bill to remove slavery from Utah’s constitution has passed out of a House committee.

The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday afternoon to support Representative Sandra Hollins’ House Joint Resolution 8. 

Following the decision, everyone in the committee room, including committee members, gave Representative Sandra Hollins, (D-Salt Lake City) a standing ovation. After the applause came the hugs.

“I am overwhelmed and I am grateful. I think those are the only two words to describe how I feel after that experience,” Hollins said smiling from ear to ear.

Article I, Section 21 currently reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within this State.”

HJR8 would amend Article I, Section 21 to read “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within this State.”

Hollins told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson that although the wording should be removed, she wants to make it clear that she supports prison reform.

“I think prison should be an opportunity for people to rehabilitate themselves. People should have the opportunity to work. It should be part of the rehabilitation system — work requirements and education so that we are able to send people back out in the community where they are able to function in the community on their own and be self-sufficient,” she explained.

Politicians, religious organizations, the NAACP Salt Lake Branch, Black Lives Matter, and community members all spoke at Tuesday’s hearing in favor of the bill.

HJR8 now goes to the House Floor. If it passes the legislature and is signed by Governor Gary Herbert, the constitutional amendment will go to the ballot for Utahns to vote on in the 2020 election.

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