- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed five bills Wednesday, the last day he could take action on legislation.

In addition, the Republican governor used a line item veto to nix three items in a budget bill. He signed eight other bills and allowed three to go into law without his signature.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said he will poll senators to see if there’s enough support to override the vetoes. House Speaker Greg Hughes also intends to poll members of that chamber, Niederhauser said.

Herbert has taken action on a total of 495 bills this year. Most bills that he signed take effect May 12.

Some highlights of what the governor has approved and vetoed through Wednesday:

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LATE SPEAKER-VETERANS

Herbert vetoed a bill to name a section of Veterans’ Memorial Highway after late state House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart. Herbert said the Lockhart family requested the veto.

A group of Vietnam veterans protested the change, arguing that Lockhart’s name should not be added to the section of Interstate 15 because she was not a veteran.

Lockhart died of a rare brain disease Jan. 17, less than three weeks after leaving office. She was 46.

Herbert said he was disappointed by the controversy that seemed to diminish the Legislature’s recognition of Lockhart but remained committed to working with lawmakers and the Lockhart family to find an appropriate memorial to honor her memory.

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UNSIGNED BILLS

Herbert told lawmakers he is unhappy with the state’s dropout rate but has concerns about the details of a bill designed to improve dropout recovery programs. He left that bill unsigned Wednesday. He allowed three other bills to become law without his signature: measures that would increase pay for the governor, other state officials and tax commission officials, and a base education budget proposed earlier this year.

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OTHER VETOES

Herbert also vetoed measures that increase incentives for filming movies and television in Utah, a bill creating a new kind of educator license, and a bill related to overpaid business and income taxes.

Another vetoed bill would have let drivers cross train tracks when a signal is flashing but a crossing gate has not been lowered and no train is near. He said in a letter explaining the veto that he worried it could lead to accidents.

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RELIGIOUS RIGHTS AND GAY RIGHTS

The governor signed an anti-discrimination measure that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents from discrimination in housing and employment.

The bill creates exemptions for religious organizations and for protecting religious speech in the workplace.

The measure was crafted with input from LGBT activists and sped through the Legislature after being endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

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FIRING SQUAD

The governor signed a bill allows firing squads to be used as a backup execution method when no lethal injection drugs are available. Herbert approved the law even though he has called it “a little bit gruesome.”

His office received hundreds of letters from around the world about the proposal.

The law came in response to the difficulty of obtaining lethal injection drugs as manufacturers opposed to capital punishment make them unavailable to prisons.

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CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS

Herbert signed a package of reforms to Utah’s criminal justice system, including a plan to drop penalties for some drug offenses.

The bill also includes measures to improve treatment for criminals with mental health problems and provide incentives for good behavior.

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RIDE-HAILING COMPANIES

Herbert signed a bill that creates new statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft while overriding Salt Lake City regulations that have left the company’s drivers with big fines.

The law requires drivers to be covered with at least $1 million in liability insurance. The companies would be allowed to do their own background checks and vehicle.

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