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Here’s some of the big bills to pass in the Utah State Legislature

Posted at 4:12 PM, Mar 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-13 02:59:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Lawmakers finished the Utah State Legislature passing hundreds of bills.

At the beginning of the session, there was approximately 1,224 bills requested. FOX 13 requested numbers of bills passed and was told that as of midnight Thursday, 528 bills passed in the 2015 session.

Here's a look at some of the bigger bills to pass so far:

Medicaid expansion negotiations resolution:

House Democrats voted against the resolution in protest that they were not included in the discussions between the House, Senate and the Governor's office. Rep. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, objected to a portion of the resolution insisting that "doing nothing is an option." The resolution in support of negotiations for health care coverage solutions passed 59-16.

Criminal justice reforms:

The Senate passed House Bill 348, a massive series of criminal justice reforms in Utah. The highlights of bill make simple drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony and reduces most traffic offenses from misdemeanors to infractions. More money will also be shifted to rehabilitation and treatment for substance abuse instead of incarceration.

"This will save so many lives!" a jubilant HB348 sponsor Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, told FOX 13.

Gas tax:

The Senate voted Thursday to advance a plan that would raise the gas tax by a nickel, and then a penny a year for the next four years. It also includes a local option sales tax. The House passed it just before midnight Thursday. The money will be used, in part, to pay for infrastructure improvements.

Police shootings:

Just before midnight Thursday, the House passed a bill that would have outside agencies investigate an officer-involved shooting or other use of force.

Powdered alcohol:

The Senate passed a House bill making powdered alcohol illegal to possess in Utah.

Pay raise for the governor, executive branch members:

The Senate voted 25-2 on Thursday to give the governor, attorney general and other executive branch members a pay raise. Beginning in 2017, the governor will make $150,000 a year. Other executive branch members will make 90 to 95 percent of the governor's salary.

Township incorporation:

The Utah State Legislature has approved a bill that would create an election in November to make unincorporated townships in Salt Lake County vote to incorporate or join a "metro township."

Distracted driving:

The Senate passed House Bill 63, which deals with using cell phones while driving. Under the bill, it would be illegal for you to hold your phone up to your ear while driving, texting or looking something up. Instead, you have to use a hands-free device and can only use "one touch" to use voice activated controls.

Wood burning ban:

The House gave final approval to a bill that would block the Utah Division of Air Quality from instituting a seasonal wood burning ban.

Cow sharing:

House Bill 104 removes the prohibition on sharing cows for the purposes of milk, something previously not allowed under state law.

Primary Seatbelt law:

The Senate passed House Bill 79, which lets police stop you for driving without your seatbelt. Previously, it used to be a secondary offense.

"Over 50 percent of the people that die on Utah’s highways are not seat-belted. That tells you a lot," said DPS Commissioner Keith Squires, who supported the bill.

Firing squad:

The Senate passed House Bill 11, which brings back the firing squad as a backup method of execution, should lethal injection not be available.

The ACLU of Utah on Wednesday launched a campaign asking people to call the governor's office to ask him to veto the bill.

Breastfeeding anti-discrimination:

The Senate signed off on House Bill 105, which seeks to protect breastfeeding mothers from discrimination in the workplace. Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, objected not because she's anti-motherhood, but because she does not support adding "special rights" into law.

Contact lens price-fixing:

The House passed Senate Bill 169, which would prohibit contact lens manufacturers from price fixing after a lively debate.

Cockfighting:

After some heated debate, the House voted to pass Senate Bill 134, which would increase the level of criminal charges for people who participate in cockfighting. Rep. Earl Tanner, R-West Jordan, defended the practice saying: "There's nothing inherently immoral about fighting chickens."

On Thursday morning, the Senate approved the bill on a 17-7 vote. Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis says he hopes it sends the message: "we don't want cockfighting in Utah."

Prison relocation:

It appears funding will be allocated for moving the Utah State Prison from its site in Draper. The legislature has passed a resolution sponsored by Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, saying that Utah workers will be included in any new prison construction. Sen Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said money had been set aside to move the prison: about $80 million.

White Collar Crime registry:

The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 378, creating a white collar crime registry for convicted fraudsters. Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said the bill is one of the top priorities of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to crack down on fraud in the state.

"Utah is known throughout the nation for its high-level of vulnerability for affinity fraud," said Sen. Bramble. "Utah’s unique personal weavings offer a rich environment for predatory behavior."

Clean air:

House Bill 226 passed the Senate. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, would allow Utah to set tougher clean air standards than even the federal government. Other clean air bills died early on in the legislative session.

Sex abuse statute of limitations:

Victims of sex abuse got help from House Bill 277, that repealed the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits against perpetrators of sexual abuse. It triggered some debate over false claims and repressed memories, but ultimately the bill set a 4-year deadline for someone to bring legal action.

"I am so excited on behalf of victims across the state of Utah to feel like we are protected, we are valued," said Deondra Brown, a sexual abuse survivor who had lobbied lawmakers on behalf of the bill sponsored by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan.

Check back as FOX 13 updates this page with bills as they pass tonight...