SALT LAKE CITY — A measure that ramps up punishment for those found guilty of hate crimes is one of a handful of bills lawmakers plan to run again in the 2018 Utah Legislature, reviving their efforts after one, two or even three failed attempts during previous sessions.
May 9 was the first day legislators can start filing planned legislation for next year. On Monday, lawmakers had already posted plans for dozens of new and previously considered measures.
Here are some key bills that lawmakers plan to run again:
Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said he plans to run a measure that would give heavier punishments to defendants found guilty of committing a crime to terrorize groups of people based on factors such as race, gender and religion.
Thatcher introduced a similar bill during the recently competed legislative session, but it was never given a public hearing because of strong opposition from some lawmakers, he said.
Thatcher said he expects the measure to be similar to the one he sponsored in 2017, but he may slightly tone down the enhanced punishments for some crimes. He said he expects the change to increase support for the measure, and he's confident it will pass.
For the second year in a row, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, plans to introduce a measure that would tax electronic cigarettes in a similar fashion to tobacco cigarettes.
Ray said he hopes boosting the price will help curb young people's use of the product, saying the product is very unhealthy.
"We know that if we price these at the right price points, kids won't use them because they can't afford them," he said.
The measure is expected to add about an 86 percent tax to e-cigarettes — battery-powered electronic vaporizers that heat liquid nicotine into an inhalable mist. They began to appear in the U.S. in late 2006, and marketing has increased exponentially in recent years.
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Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, is planning to run a bill for the fourth year in a row that would allow terminally ill adults who are expected to live six months or less to choose to end their lives.
Chavez-Houck said she plans to revisit the measure because some patients want to have the option, and constituents throughout the state are pushing for the legislation.
The proposal will likely be similar to the one she introduced during the 2017 session and include such safeguards as requiring that the patient is mentally competent and having two physicians sign off on the prognosis.