SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary Herbert continues to sign bills passed during the 2015 session of the Utah Legislature. He signed 56 bills on Wednesday and 42 on Tuesday, bring the total to 200 as of Thursday morning. The Legislature passed 528 bills this session, 495 of which require action by the governor.
Among bills signed by the governor this time were bills related to the location of the new state prison; enhanced death benefits for fallen police officers and firefighters; creating a white collar crime registry; e-cigarette regulation; and a “Right to Try” bill for terminally ill patients.
Among bills signed by the governor Wednesday was House Bill 454, Prison Development Amendments. This bill establishes the process to finalize the location of the new state penitentiary and enacts a local option sales and use tax for a city or town where the prison will be located. No site has been chosen for the new prison at the time of this publication.
“The state prison facility in Draper is outdated and needs to be replaced,” Herbert said. “The construction of a new prison – regardless of where it is located – provides us with a tremendous opportunity to build a facility that will help us reduce recidivism while enhancing public safety.”
The bill also ensures both the legislative and executive branches will play a role in the final decision. Once the Prison Relocation Commission makes a recommendation, the full Legislature will vote on the recommendation. The governor will then have the opportunity to review the bill and sign or veto it.
The deadline for the commission to pick a potential location for the new prison facility is Aug. 1.
Enhanced death benefits for fallen police officers and firefighters
Also signed Wednesday was House Bill 288, Line-of-duty Death Benefits for Peace Officers and Firefighters. This bill clarifies and enhances the amount of money paid to the surviving spouses of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty, as well as allowing their health coverage to continue.
“When police officers and firefighters are lost in the line of duty, we owe them more than just a debt of gratitude,” Herbert said. “I am pleased to see such strong support for their family members who have paid such a heavy price.”
White collar crime registry
House Bill, 378 White Collar Crime Registry, signed Tuesday, authorizes the attorney general to develop and operate a Utah White Collar Crime Offender registry, which will be made available to the public.
“Whether a criminal wears a white collar or a blue collar, I am a strong supporter of protecting the consumer and the public from fraud and predatory practices,” Herbert said. “This bill helps us do that and I’m proud to sign it.”
House Bill 415, Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes, places state restrictions on the selling or distribution of electronic cigarette products. It allows the Department of Health to determine product quality, nicotine content, and packaging and labeling standards.
“Electronic cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful, addictive substances,” Herbert said. “As marketing and sales of e-cigarettes increase, taxation and regulations similar to those imposed on traditional tobacco products should be enforced to protect public health.”
Right to Try: Allowing terminally ill patient access to investigative drugs and devices
Also signed Tuesday was House Bill 94, Investigational Drugs and Devices for Terminally Ill Patients.
This makes Utah the 10th state to adopt Right to Try, according to a news release from the Goldwater Institute. Right to Try allows terminally ill Americans to try medicines that have passed Phase 1 of the FDA approval process but are not yet on pharmacy shelves. Right to Try expands access to potentially lifesaving treatments years before patients would normally be able to access them.
“We all know the pain of losing someone we love to a terminal illness,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute, a group involved in the national Right to Try effort. “If you know there’s a treatment that is helping people survive, who is anyone to say ‘No; you don’t have the right to try to save your own life or to save your child’s life’? Of course you do. Of course people should have the right to try promising medicines when they are fighting for their lives.”
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