Hate crimes, marriage and guns among new Utah laws in effect

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert holds up S.B. 103, Victim Targeting Penalty Enhancements, after signing it into law in a public ceremony marking the moment Utah's comprehensive bill to prevent hate crimes became law at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (Steve Griffin/The Deseret News via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Starting Tuesday, people convicted of hate crimes can be subject to harsher punishment, 15-year-olds can no longer be married and the state’s “stand your ground” law will get stronger.

Lawmakers passed 574 bills this year, setting a record, and most of those new laws will go into effect on Tuesday, 60 days after the end of the short legislative session.

Some closely watched changes aren’t in effect yet. A measure allowing grocery stores to sell higher-alcohol beer will start in November. Lawmakers also passed a ban on most abortions after 18 weeks of gestation, but it’s on hold as a court challenge plays out.

Here are some of the notable new laws that go into effect Tuesday:

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HATE CRIMES

A new hate-crimes law means people can be sentenced to more serious punishments if they’re convicted of targeting others based on their race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors.

Utah’s previous hate-crimes law didn’t protect specific groups and prosecutors said it was unenforceable. The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Daniel Thatcher had been stalled in the Legislature for years before it gained momentum following the November 2018 beating of a Latino man in Salt Lake City.

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SUPER TUESDAY

Utah’s presidential primary election will move several months earlier next year, to March 3. The date is known as Super Tuesday because a number states hold their contests that day, and it could mean that candidates looking for an earlier boost spend more time campaigning in the state.

Lawmakers also approved spending $2.9 million for the state to run the primary after many people experienced long lines during the 2016 vote, which was run by the individual political parties.

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CAMPAIGN FUNDS FOR CHILD CARE

Candidates for government offices will be able to use campaign funds to pay for child care, both during the campaign and while participating in public duties, if elected. The bill passed easily and Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, signed off on it in March. Proponents say it will help more people run for office without worrying about child care.

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UNDERAGE MARRIAGE

Another new law prohibits marriage before age 16, and requires others under 18 to get consent of their parents and a judge. It also outlaws marriages with age gaps larger than seven years. Previous state law had allowed 15-year-olds to marry with judicial approval and 16 and 17-year-olds only needed consent from a parent.

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GUNS

Another new measure will strengthen Utah’s “stand your ground” law. Failure to retreat will not be relevant in determining if an individual acted rationally. A voluntary suicide-prevention measure focused on education and gun-lock distribution that was supported by the firearm lobby will also take effect.

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STATE REPTILE

Utah will now have an official state reptile, the Gila monster, after a lobbying effort by students at Lava Ridge Intermediate School in Santa Clara. The venomous lizard is named after the Gila River, a Colorado River tributary that flows through Arizona and into New Mexico. In Utah, the black and yellow creature can be found in Snow Canyon State Park and in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve during warmer months.

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2 Comments

  • Johnny Cache May 15, 2019 at 5:09 am Reply

    Where do they find all these people who have nothing better to do than applaud Herbert holding up a paper? Honestly who has the free time for that, and if they have it why would they choose that to do with it.

  • Warren s Pugh May 16, 2019 at 1:27 am Reply

    1. U better find a good definition for targeting.
    After all, are you not targeting religions that
    believe in childhood betrothals and marriage
    at nine years old??
    2. Super Tuesday. Are we mildly retarded that over
    100 years after women were granted the right to
    vote that we so-called intelligent humans still
    have not figured how to do this equitably?

    Thanks for the news. Do you think any school
    administrators will see the wisdom in assuring
    that students attend at least parts of the B & W
    Days?

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