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A Look At Some Utah Laws That Take Effect On New Year's Day

Utah state lawmakers passed over 500 bills during the Legislative session earlier this year.

Most laws passed during the Utah state Legislature’s 2020 General Session have already gone into effect. But a handful of them take effect Jan 1. Here’s a look at some.

Constitutional Amendments

Voters approved all seven constitutional amendments in November.

Amendment A removes gender-specific language from the constitution, so “men” will be replaced with the word “persons,” for example.

Amendment B outlines when legislators need to meet eligibility requirements, such as age and residency status. The amendment clarifies that qualifications need to be met at the time of election or appointment instead of when they assume office.

Amendment C removes an exception for slavery in the state constitution. Currently, slavery is prohibited except for as a punishment for crimes.

Amendment D clarifies that municipalities, like cities and towns, are allowed to supply water to people outside the municipality. It also allows municipalities to draw their own boundaries of the area served by its water supply.

Amendment E changes the constitution to say the right of people to hunt and fish “shall be forever preserved.” It also declares that hunting and fishing is the preferred way “of managing and controlling wildlife.”

Amendment F allows the state Legislature to change the start date of their General Session by statute rather than by constitutional amendment. Lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year that would make the start date the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the third Monday of January.

Amendment G allows income and property tax revenue earmarked for education to be used for programs that support children and people with disabilities. This amendment activates another law that creates an education stabilization fund and requires the Legislature to adjust per-pupil funding for inflation each year.

School Bus Inspections

This law requires schools to do annual school bus safety inspections, instead of the Utah Highway Patrol. UHP will be required to do random inspections instead. Each year UHP must inspect at least 20% of a school’s buses and make sure that any defects they find during random inspections are fixed. The results of random UHP inspections must be made available to the public.

Electric Car Fees

Counties that must have a motor vehicle emissions inspection program, or have to monitor motor vehicle emissions to achieve air quality requirements, are allowed to charge a fee to pay for that program. They’re allowed to charge $3 per vehicle when the vehicle is registered each year.

Starting Jan. 1, electric cars will be exempt from that fee.

‘Pain and Suffering’ Insurance Claims

Currently, there are five instances when people can make an insurance claim for general pain and suffering after a car accident: death, dismemberment, permanent disability or permanent impairment, permanent disfigurement or medical expenses more than $3,000.

On Jan. 1, people can also make a claim if they fractured a bone during the car accident.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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