Bills that sank, sailed as Utah lawmakers end 2015 session

FILE - The Utah House of Representatives meet on the floor Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers wrapped up their annual session at midnight Thursday after 45 days of meetings and debate. They passed more than 500 bills, with hundreds more abandoned, dropped or lost along the way.

A look at where a few key issues landed at the end:

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Senators narrowly voted down a measure that would allow patients with chronic and debilitating diseases to have edible marijuana products like candy and brownies if they have doctor’s prescription. Lawmakers said the measure, which would have Utah join 23 states with similar laws, needs more study. The bill’s sponsor, Saratoga Springs Republican Sen. Mark Madsen, has said he may pursue the issue next year.

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CIVICS TEST

Students will have to pass a U.S. citizenship test to graduate high school if Herbert signs a bill passed by lawmakers Thursday. The measure would require high school and adult education program students to correctly answer 35 out of 50 questions on the test. The requirement is being pushed in Utah by the Joe Foss Institute, an Arizona-based organization that wants to see all 50 states pass similar laws.

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POWDERED ALCOHOL

A powdered form of alcohol will become illegal to use or possess in Utah if the governor signs off on a bill passed by the lawmakers late Thursday night. The proposal includes exceptions for powered alcohol used in research or for state-approved commercial purposes.

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ZION CURTAIN

A law requiring some restaurants to prepare alcoholic beverages behind a barrier will remain unchanged. One representative proposed allowing businesses to remove the so-called “Zion curtains” and instead display a sign notifying customers that alcoholic drinks are prepared in public view. The bill never took off.

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WHITE-COLLAR CRIME REGISTRY

Lawmakers have approved the creation of a website that lists information about people convicted of fraud, similar to a sex-offender registry. The measure targets Utah’s high levels of affinity fraud, in which someone exploits a relationship of trust to defraud another person. Herbert has said he plans to sign the bill.

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COCKFIGHTING

Lawmakers approved a watered-down version of a bill to strengthen cockfighting penalties that has failed in previous legislative sessions. The measure would make cockfighting a felony on the third offense if it’s signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert. The bill’s sponsor says that other Western states consider the sport a felony and says Utah’s weak penalties make it a haven for the practice, which is often considered an act of animal cruelty.

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STATE DOG

House members put a stop to one lawmaker’s attempt to designate the golden retriever as the state domestic animal. A class of South Jordan fourth-graders suggested the honor after they discovered that the breed is the most popular pet in Utah. The bill was killed by a 27-43 vote in the House.

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DISTRACTED DRIVING

A bill to tweak Utah laws about using a cellphone while driving died in the House late Thursday night. The proposal would make it legal to use a cellphone a cellphone while driving as long as drivers used voice-activated programs like Apple’s Siri to place calls, send texts or perform other functions.

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AGGIE SPORTS

The state’s budget includes a $1.5 million boost to Utah State University’s efforts to recruit athletes. The provision was included by Logan Republican Sen. Lyle Hillyard, who argued that new regulations requiring colleges to pay players stipends are putting a strain on the school.

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RIGHT TO DIE

A proposal to allow physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill Utahans died before making it to the House or Senate floor. A committee said the issue needs further study and recommended that it be discussed further after the legislative session ends.

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TATTOOING MINORS

A bill that would have made it more difficult for teenagers to get tattooed passed the House but quickly stalled in the Senate, where it died Thursday night. The proposal would have prohibited minors under 14 from being tattooed, even with a parent’s permission, and would tighten restrictions for older teenagers. The bill passed a House vote by a significant margin.

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