- Associated Press - Thursday, March 14, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Latest on the last day of Utah’s legislative session (all times local):

11:20 p.m.

The Utah Legislature is ending its session after passing a record 573 bills, including allowances for more alcohol in beer, an abortion ban that could be among the strictest in the country, and a long-awaited update to the hate crimes law.

Lawmakers wrapped up their 2019 session shortly before midnight, after taking action on final issues like setting the Gila monster as the state reptile and banning the use of shackles on jailed women during childbirth.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert says lawmakers took on some of the most complicated, difficult issues he’s seen during the 10 sessions he’s presided over.

The session did include some protest over issues like scaling back voter-approved Medicaid expansion and the collapse of a proposed ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy.


11 p.m.

After Utah voters passed changes to laws on hot-button issues like Medicaid expansion and medical marijuana, state lawmakers have passed new laws on the ballot-initiative process.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a bill passed Wednesday would delay successful ballot initiatives from going into effect, giving lawmakers a chance to change them.

Lawmakers also passed a bill requiring county elections offices to publicly post online the lists of people who support the effort, among other new signature rules.

The left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah says those laws make it harder for people to create their own laws through the initiative process. Lawmakers say the delay allows for technical tweaks and signatures are already public record.

Other new rules prohibits a campaign from running similar initiatives within a two-year period, and require initiative backers to first describe their financial impact to voters.


9:15 p.m.

Utah lawmakers are passing a measure highlighting the negative effects of daylight savings time.

The resolution that passed Thursday night cites research indicating changing clocks twice a year hurts health and safety.

Sponsored by Republican Rep. Marsha Judkins, it urges Congress to support a measure from Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop that would let states choose whether to observe daylight savings time all year long.

State lawmakers say it’s often among the top issues they hear about from voters.

The vote comes as more than two dozen states are considering measures to avoid the twice yearly clock change.

While federal law allows states to opt into standard time permanently - which Hawaii and Arizona have done - the reverse is prohibited and requires Congressional action.


7 p.m.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says a potential cost of a lawsuit wouldn’t necessarily keep him from signing an 18-week abortion ban passed by lawmakers.

Herbert told the Associated Press on Thursday that he’s still weighing whether to sign the measure, but when it comes to lawsuits “some fights are worth having.”

Opponents say the measure is unconstitutional, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah will challenge the measure if it’s signed into law. The sponsor has said defending it could cost up to $2 million if the state loses.

The bill comes as abortion opponents across the country are emboldened by President Donald Trump’s appointment of conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Herbert says he’s against abortion, but not considering the possibility of becoming a national test case as he weighs whether to sign the bill.


5:30 p.m.

Lawmakers are stripping out an earmark that would put taxpayer money toward a new center named for of longtime Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. 

The Utah Legislature had set aside $1.5 million to help fund the center but removed funding in a new version of the budget released Thursday. The budget is expected to receive final approval Thursday night. 

Critics have said the public money could be better used for other projects. 

The Orrin G. Hatch Foundation has been aiming to raise $40 million in private money to construct a stately building and think tank. 

The center is a partnership with the University of Utah, and is planned as an archive for Hatch’s papers as well as an institute to help train future political leaders. Hatch retired in January to end his tenure as the longest-serving Republican senator in history. 


3:15 p.m.

Utah lawmakers are sending to the governor a compromise deal raising the amount of alcohol allowed in beer.

The Utah Senate gave final approval Thursday to a deal that would raise alcohol limits to 4 percent, which is still relatively low but would allow for most production-line beers to be sold in grocery and convenience stores. The House approved the measure Wednesday.

Utah limits beer to 3.2 percent alcohol outside of state-owned liquor stores, but large breweries have been discontinuing weak-beer products as other states abandon similar limits.

Republican Sen. Jerry Stevenson originally wanted to raise alcohol limits to 4.8 percent, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and several lawmakers opposed that idea.

The state’s predominant faith teaches abstinence from alcohol and was neutral on the compromise.


9:06 a.m.

Utah lawmakers are winding down their annual session after reaching a deal to allow more alcohol in beer, passing a ban on most abortions after 18 weeks and scaling back a voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

Other failed to pass, including a ban on LGBT conversion therapy. The legislative session ends Thursday.

Lawmakers also decided to postpone action on sweeping tax reform, although they wrote fail-safes into the state’s $19 billion budget to ensure that action happens later this year.

Some of the actions sparked protest, such as the move to shrink Medicaid expansion and the failure of the conversion-therapy ban.

Lawmakers say the Medicaid decisions were essential to controlling long-term costs, but on conversion therapy they vowed to continue the conversation.

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