Utah governor calls special legislative session to discuss amendments to controversial bills

In this file photo, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 3, 2023 | Photo by Rick Bowmer, The Associated Press, St. George News

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox called for a special session of the state Legislature on Wednesday — the Juneteenth holiday — to discuss potential amendments to different controversial bills passed last general session.

That includes actions under the Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act, a bill that gave the state an avenue to not comply with directives from the federal government.

The session will also consider legislation that extended the life of a coal plant, a heavily contested policy by the facility owners.

“Since the adjournment of the 2024 General Session of the Sixty-fifth Legislature of the State of Utah, certain matters have arisen which require immediate legislative attention,” the proclamation reads.

The session is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Cox had announced in his monthly news conference broadcast by PBS he was working with leaders at the Legislature to invoke a special session to make minor amendments to SB161, titled Energy Security Amendments, which would prevent plans to close two coal-fueled generators at the Intermountain Power Plant, located near Delta.

The amendments would include changes related to the Project Entity Oversight Committee, according to the proclamation.

The governor had signed the bill amid warnings of federal conflict and pleas from the Intermountain Power Agency, which owns the plant, to veto the bill. Cox noted he would sign the bill, acknowledging the Legislature needed to tweak it.

Cox signs bill to keep coal plant open amid warnings of federal conflict

The special session will also tackle actions under SB57, titled Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act, “with respect to the United States Department of Education’s new Title IX regulations slated to take effect on Aug. 1, 2024.” Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs receiving federal financial assistance. The rule has been challenged by different states as it offers protections to LGBTQ+ students by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Lawmakers are also scheduled to consider adjustments to statutory repeal dates and actions to counter “federal overreach on public lands in the State of Utah: reallocating existing appropriations, making statutory amendments, and facilitating public outreach efforts.”

During the special session, legislators will also consider amendments to laws related to the participation of exchange students in online education programs, a concern noted in a Juab School District legislative audit released in May.

The Legislature will also consent to appointments made by the governor and consider changes to SB221, School District Amendments, a bill that changed certain requirements to create school districts.

Written by ALIXEL CABRERA, Utah News Dispatch

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