Gov. Gary Herbert Signs Bills Expanding Mental Healthcare And Reforming Justice System
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed 125 bills into law Monday, including a bill to to spend more than $16 million in state money to expand mental healthcare and one banning the prosecution of minors in certain instances.
Herbert has now signed 459 of the 510 bills passed in the 2020 legislative session.
Here are some of the bills he approved Monday:
Mental Healthcare: The more than $16 million bill expands an alternative system of treating people in mental health crises. Rather than ambulances and emergency rooms, this system includes a hotline, mobile outreach teams, and receiving centers. It requires funding for three mobile outreach teams in rural counties. Utah had the fifth highest suicide rate in the country in 2017, and an average of 627 Utahns die from suicide every year, according to the state Department of Health.
Insulin Access: In a bid to make insulin more affordable, this new law caps co-pays for insulin treatments for some insurance plans. It also requires the Utah Insurance Department to study the price of insulin in the state, requires the state’s insurance plan to buy discounted insulin, and allows pharmacists to refill expired prescriptions.
Prosecution of Minors: Children under 12 will not be prosecuted under this new law, unless they’re accused of serious crimes like rape or murder. Instead, children would go through restorative justice programs that include things like community service and apologizing to the victim.
Water Banking: This new law creates a market system for buying and selling temporary water rights, as a way to prepare for more explosive population growth in Utah. It will be automatically repealed at the end of 2030.
E-Cigarette Taxes: E-cigarettes will be taxed at a rate of 56% under this law. This is one of many bills aimed at curbing teen vaping, although the proposed tax rate was lowered by about 30% as it made its way through the legislature.
Correction 10:53 a.m. MT 3/31/2020: A previous version of this story misstated the total number of bills the governor has signed. He has signed 459 bills into law according to the governor’s press team.
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson