SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A first-in-the-country requirement that women receive anesthesia before abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy is one of about 350 new Utah laws that take effect Tuesday.
The trigger for about three-fourths of the new laws is May 10 because it’s a default date under state law that marks 60 days from the end of the Utah’s short legislative session.
Other laws, mainly budget and tax-related measures, will take effect at the start of the new government budget year in July or on Jan. 1.
Some of the most notable new laws that become operative Tuesday:
ANESTHESIA FOR ABORTIONS
Utah is the first state in the country that’s requiring doctors to give anesthesia to a woman having an abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later. The law is based on the disputed notion that a fetus can feel pain at that point in development. Doctors say the law could jeopardize women’s health by giving them unnecessary sedation to prevent pain that a fetus may not be able to feel.
The federal government has offered Utah hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for opening up its Medicaid program to more than 100,000 of the state’s poor. But conservative state lawmakers have rejected the offer, saying they fear Utah may not be able to afford its share of the program’s cost. Instead, Utah leaders this year agreed on a pared-down plan to cover only 16,000 people, mostly homeless adults or those in treatment or criminal justice programs such as probation or parole. That law takes effect Tuesday but people aren’t expected to actually get insurance until 2017. Utah still needs to hold public hearings on the proposal and get approval from the federal government.
Utah police departments that outfit officers with body-worn cameras will have to comply with a new law specifying how footage should be recorded, stored and released, among other rules. The law generally requires police to turn cameras on as soon as possible during interviews, stops and other confrontations and keep filming the encounter until it ends. Video recorded inside someone’s house would not be considered a public record unless it shows a disputed encounter, such as an alleged crime or an officer using force on someone.
One new law sets safety and licensing rules for autocycles- three-wheeled vehicles that resemble motorcycles but operate like cars. Officials had treated the few autocycles that have shown up on Utah’s roads as motorcycles and required operators to complete a motorcycle driving test, even though the skills aren’t used on an autocycle. This new law exempts autocycle drivers from that licensing requirement and spells out what lights, seatbelts and other features the vehicles must have.
ASSISTED LIVING SURVEILLANCE
Utah passed a law allowing residents at assisted living facilities and their family members to install video or audio recording devices in rooms if they’re worried about potential abuse or neglect. The law says the facility must be notified that the recording device has been installed and it cannot refuse to accept patients who wish to have the devices in their room.
DRONES NEAR WILDFIRES
Anyone caught flying a drone near a wildfire could face jail time and fines starting Tuesday. State officials reported seeing three drones near wildfires in the past few years. One of the unmanned aircraft flew close enough to a blaze last year that firefighters were forced to ground their aircraft to avoid a collision.
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