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Here are the 7 vetoes Gov. Cox issued for the 2024 session

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at his monthly news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 21, 2024.
Trent Nelson
The Salt Lake Tribune, pool
Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at his monthly news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 21, 2024.

The governor has 20 days from the end of Utah’s legislative session to either sign approved bills, let them become law without his signature or use his veto. This year, Gov. Spencer Cox had to wade through a record-breaking 591 bills. Unlike last year, however, he put the brakes on seven bills coming out of the 2024 session.

Cox also issued line-item vetoes on two bills and will let two others go into effect without his signature “because of overwhelming legislative support.”

The “sheer number of bills” the Legislature passed was an issue for the governor earlier in the day at his March news conference. He believes some were “non-substantive” and “didn’t do anything.” Even so, he’s proud of what he describes as a positive relationship with the Legislature and sees the veto as just part of the process.

These are the bills vetoed:

  1. HB152 Residential Construction Amendments: The bill mandated the Division of Professional Licensing to provide at least one sample contract for residential remodels and new residential construction. Cox said the division “can (and will) do this without a bill directing it.”
  2. HB239 State Employee Cybersecurity Training Requirements: It would have required executive branch employees to complete cyber security training. Cox said the training and program “already exists” and “employees are already required to participate.” If there are concerns with the program, he added, the Division of Technology Services “stands ready to make whatever changes are needed.”
  3. HB412 Legislative Auditor General Requirements: The bill added additional agency reporting requirements during the budgeting process. Cox said “we don’t need a bill” to make sure the agency is using the tools available to them to “improve operations.”
  4. SB244 Professional Licensing Modifications: The Division of Professional Licensing would have been required to conduct an annual review of its published guidelines to ensure they reflect current provisions of the Utah Criminal Code. Cox said the division already does this “without being directed by statute.”
  5. SB274 Administrative Law Judge Amendments: Under the bill, any agency that uses or employs an administrative law judge would have been instructed to submit a report to the Legislature. Cox said the bill “started as an effort to move” all the admin judges to the state Attorney General’s Office. But that changed throughout the legislative process. He added agencies “can provide this information without a bill.”
  6. HB144 Vehicle Accident Liability Amendments: The bill defined who is at fault if an accident happens during a left-hand turn. Cox vetoed it because some of the intended language was removed, resulting in a bill that “may not bring clarity that the original goal intended.”
  7. SB190 Higher Education Development Areas Study: The bill forced The Political Subdivisions Interim Committee to study the development of university-owned property. Cox said the objective “doesn’t need formal legislation.” 

In a statement explaining his veto decisions, Cox said “many concerns” can be handled through “conversations” with the agencies involved, rather than a bill to “expand our ever-growing state code.”

It is “very possible,” Cox said, that the Legislature will call a special session to override his vetoes. Lawmakers did in 2022 after Cox vetoed a bill that prohibits transgender K-12 students from participating in school sports. Even then, Cox said the Legislature shouldn’t take a veto personally.

“I don't have my feelings hurt when they override. They shouldn't have their feelings hurt when I veto,” Cox told reporters at his earlier news conference. “Although they do often, which I understand because it's a lot of work. It's not easy to get a bill passed.”

Besides the vetoes, the governor also allowed two bills to become law without his signature:

  • HB78 Motion Picture Incentives Amendments. The bill allows for tax credits to help fund rural Utah film production. It’s in response to famous director Kevin Costner announcing he will be building a film studio in Moab. Cox said he has “expressed concerns in the past” about money being allocated to film incentives. “I believe there are better returns for taxpayer dollars,” he said.
  • SB266 Medical Amendments. This bill authorizes a pilot program for certain drugs to treat different conditions, including the use of Psilocybin. 
Saige is a politics reporter and co-host of KUER's State Street politics podcast
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