SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Gov. Cox signed two controversial bills into law today, Jan. 28, banning certain transgender medical treatments for minors, increasing teacher pay and providing vouchers for students.

S.B. 16 Transgender Medical Treatment and Procedures

S.B. 16 bans certain gender reassignment procedures and hormonal treatments for minors while also allowing patients to later remove consent and sue doctors for performing the procedure.

Other individuals can now bring a malpractice lawsuit against doctors under some circumstances, regardless of their patient status. Due to a recent change, S.B. 16 is immediately effective with no expiration date.

Gov. Cox released a statement on the bill calling this a “divisive issue” and thanking Sen. Kennedy for his “nuanced and thoughtful approach.”

“More and more experts, states and countries around the world are pausing these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences. We will continue to push the Legislature for additional resources to organizations that work to help this important Utah community. While we understand our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these procedures.” 

Governor Spencer Cox

H.B. 215 Funding for Teacher Salaries and Optional Education

While H.B. 215 will raise the annual teacher salary by $4,200, many teachers and education professionals are opposed to the bill saying it weakens the public school system. The Utah State Board of Education and the teacher’s union both have opposed the bill. The bill gives eligible students an $8,000 scholarship to attend an alternate form of education to public school, such as homeschooling or private school. However, the bill will only affect around 5,000 students next year which is estimated at four per school, according to Rep. Candice Pierucci (R-Herriman).

“This bill strikes a good balance. More than 90% of parents support Utah schools and so do we. Our top priority this session has been a significant increase in teacher compensation and education funding. We commend the Legislature for supporting our teacher pay proposal which will help address the state’s teacher shortage and give Utah teachers the much-needed pay raise they deserve. We also appreciate that HB 215 gives Utah parents additional options to meet the needs of their families.”

Governor Spencer Cox

S.B. 16 and H.B. 215 were the first two bills signed by Gov. Cox in 2023, according to a press release.