Legislative Update: Utah

Utah

Legislature poised to override Governor’s veto of bills that address separation of powers

The Utah state legislature will convene to vote to override Governor Herbert’s veto of two bills and a budget line-item veto related to the bills.

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The first bill – SB 171 – authorizes the legislature to intervene in court cases that impact laws passes without depending upon the state Attorney General.  The Governor’s position is that this creates separate state positions on lawsuits challenging bills.

The second bill — HB 198 – requires the Attorney General to provide the legislature will written legal opinions even if a party objects and raises attorney-client privilege as its basis.  HB 198 was in response to the Governor’s block of a legal opinion by the Attorney General citing attorney-client privilege.

Lastly, a constitutional amendment will allow the legislature to call itself into special session.  Currently, the legislature can only call a session to conduct a veto override.  The constitutional amendment will be before voters this November.

Utah ranks high in lung cancer rates due to air pollution

According to the American Thoracic Society, Utah is one of five states where lung cancers are likely caused by exposure to air pollution as reported in its latest annual report.

It is estimated that 4 to 29 Utahns develop lung cancer due to small particulate pollution that accumulates on the Wasatch front during winter inversions.  Currently, Utah does not meet federal standards for particulate or ozone pollution.

Ballot measure faces tough opposition

The Utah Psychiatric Association (UPA) has added its opposition to the Utah Marijuana Initiative joining the Utah Medical Association, the LDS Church and Governor Herbert.  A statement released by the UPA says that it was “concerned that backers of the Utah Marijuana Initiative are misrepresenting and misappropriating the position of the medical profession in Utah to garner support for their initiative.”  Additionally, that the UPA “recognizes that cannabis may have potential treatment benefits, and we encourage more research to further evaluate these effects.”

The Utah Marijuana Initiative has gathered the 200,000 signatures needed to make it on the November ballot in 24 Senate districts.

Chris Balzano contributed to this report

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