SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The 2021 Legislative Session threw a lot of curveballs at lawmakers. Several of Utah’s state legislators say they passed fewer bills in 2021 than in years past. The 400+ bills they got to they say are more meaningful and should have a positive impact on Utah’s future if they are signed by Governor Spencer Cox.
Representative Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, says, “It’s been very different due to the fact that we had some colleges who had COVID.”
Representative Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove, appeared earlier this week casting his first vote while battling the coronavirus from his hospital bed.
“We tackled some hard and important bills, and if we screw something up we will be back later to fix it,” says State Senator Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.
Police reform was a big topic on capitol hill. One bill awaiting on the governor’s desk would require law enforcement to file a report anytime a weapon is drawn.
“Part of that effort is to make sure that we have mental health support for our first responders. I was able to get $500,000 for our first responders in order to make sure their needs are met,” says Representative Karen Kwan, D-Salt Lake City.
Law Enforcement officials say they are preparing for Utah’s new concealed carry law that allows folks to conceal without a permit.
One bill aims to help the state’s homelessness.
“I think the big thing to take away is the $50-million-dollars that we are putting into affordable housing, and people experiencing homelessness, and the direction the state is taking now to assist our municipalities,” says Rep. Ramero.
Another bill would allow developers to get their own inspectors if municipalities can’t do the inspections on time.
Arguably the most important bill that needs to be signed is the aid to help Domestic Violence Shelters because of the 25 percent federal cuts to programs ABC4 News told you about last December.
Rep. Romero says, “We were able to secure over $3-million-dollars for domestic violence and sexual assault preventative education, and then also for our domestic violence shelters. We want to make sure we are not leaving anybody behind.”
Another bill Utahns can look forward too is talking about a new state flag. If signed by the governor, Utah’s commemorative flag will fly below the Utah State Flag, and a commission will be tasked with deciding if the state should change it.