- Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Dozens of new bills are popping up at Utah’s Legislature as lawmakers head into the final two weeks of their rapid session.

New bills unveiled in the past few weeks would designate an official state hashtag, allow the attorney general to get a security detail and require someone convicted of rape to pay child support if the attack leads to a pregnancy and birth.

Most bills have two pass through two committee hearings and votes by both the full House and Senate in order to make it to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk. With more than 1,000 bills in the process, many measures, especially late arrivals, may not pass the finish line this year.

Here’s a look at some of the newest proposals lawmakers are weighing:

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ATTORNEY GENERAL SECURITY

A proposal by Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper would allow the staff from the Utah Attorney General’s Office to be used as a security detail. Daniel Burton, a spokesman for Attorney General Sean Reyes, said the office requested it because the top lawman sometimes gets threats before speaking engagements or other appearances. Burton says no additional employees would be hired, but staff with law enforcement experience in the office’s investigative division would be diverted as needed to serve as security detail. Burton declined to offer details about what kind of threats Reyes has received.

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CHILD SUPPORT AFTER RAPE

One lawmaker has a proposal to ensure that anyone convicted of sexual assault can be on the hook for child support if the attack leads to a pregnancy and birth. The bill from Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, would require the convicted person to pay child support if the victim requests it.

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OFFICIAL HASHTAG

Sen. Todd Weiler, a prolific Twitter user, is proposing that Utah designate official hashtags for social media postings. His proposal would designate #Utah as the official state hashtag and #SkiUtah as the official hashtag for state tourism. Weiler has said he came up with the idea after learning that lawmakers in Texas approved official hashtags in that state.

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FORCIBLE KISSING

Under Utah law, anyone who “forcibly” kisses a minor on the mouth without consent can already be charged with a crime such as disorderly conduct. But Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, said perpetrators should be charged with lewdness. The penalties are the same, but he said it’s a more appropriate charge for the crime and it includes extra penalties for an incident involving a younger child. Under his proposal, first-time offenders would face up to a six-month jail sentence. The sentence could be higher for someone who is a convicted sex offender, has more than two past convictions or who kisses a child under 14.


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