Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

If the Utah Legislature passes certain bills this year, people may no longer be able to smoke in a car with a minor present, and gun owners could carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Here's a look at six bills that have generated a lot of debate on and off Utah's Capitol Hill during the 2013 legislative session.

Smoking in cars with children poised to become illegal in Utah

A bill that would stop drivers from smoking in cars with passengers under 15 years old has passed the House and Senate and is now going to the governor for consideration.

HB13 would impose a $45 fine on anyone found violating it. First-time offenders could avoid the fee if they took a class about quitting smoking.

One bill advocate, Utah pediatrician Dr. Tom Metcalf, said exposing a child to secondhand smoke is similar to child abuse because it is "non-accidental trauma."

"It is every bit as traumatic as broken bones and bruises and longer lasting," Metcalf said.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, said the bill is similar to laws against drinking and driving and serves a "very important, public health and safety purpose . . . to protect vulnerable people who cannot protect themselves."

Similar restrictions have been attempted before but opposing parties, like the Utah Eagle Forum, said the proposals impose on personal property rights.

"There are a lot of things that go on on personal property that would be dangerous," said Gayle Ruzicka, an Eagle Forum officer. "Private property is private property and we cannot protect children from all danger."

The Senate narrowly passed the bill with a vote of 16-13.

Bill lets people carry concealed weapons without permits
Tom Smart, Deseret News

At first, HB76 permitted someone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit whether the gun was loaded or not, and it generated some debate among lawmakers.

The House passed the bill on Friday after lawmakers made some changes to it.

Under the rules set forth in the current bill, someone can carry a concealed gun without a permit as long as there's not a round in the chamber.

Before the change, Gov. Gary Herbert expressed concerns about the bill. He said he doesn't think Utah needs new gun laws any time soon.

"I think the laws we have on our books right now protect our Second Amendment rights," the governor told reporters.

The bill's main purpose is to protect hunters who get hassled by authorities for carrying guns under their raincoats during bad weather, bill sponsor Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, said.

Bill offers new parent-time arrangements for divorced couples

HB314 would give divorced parents a new option for dividing time spent with their children.

The bill was narrowly passed through the House last week and would amend current family law, offering a new visitation schedule option that could result in joint custody.

Utah resident Elisa Seegmiller, who said she comes from a "broken home," said she worries about the effects of joint custody on children.

"You are in constant turmoil, going back and forth, with drastically different rules. You don't have a foundation, and it's hard to build strong moral values," she said. "It's not a healthy place for a child."

But it's important to allow a child to maintain a strong relationship with both parents, according to the Family Law Section of the Utah State Bar's website.

If parents can't agree on a visitation schedule, the judge can impose this joint-custody schedule, if the judge thinks it's best.

"The judge should have the discretion to implement this possibility if he or she views it might be in the best interest of the children," said committee member Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City.

Bill would provide avenue for once mentally ill Utahns to own guns

The Senate is considering a bill that would allow someone who was previously barred from owning a gun due to mental illness to own a gun once more.

SB80 would allow people who were once civilly committed to an institution to petition the state court to be removed from the National Instant Check System.

If a mental health check shows the petitioner is no longer a danger to others or to his or herself, the person can petition.

The judge on the case would need to find "clear and convincing" evidence of that person being competent to own a gun, and people still taking medicine or other mental illness treatment would not be considered.

"In the state of Utah, there is absolutely no method, no matter how diligent you've been or no matter what treatment process you've gone through, and I don't think that's OK," said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City. "It is my belief people can get better."

Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, disagreed with the proposal.

"If you want to be humane to someone with mental illness, you give them treatment, not a gun," Jones said.

Lawmaker compares cockfighting to abortion

SB53 would make cockfighting a felony, but one lawmaker said this bill shouldn't be passed while abortion is legal.

"In a state where we can still allow people to kill their babies, we want to make it a felony to let chickens fight for the purpose of which they were raised," said Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden.

He said cockfighting is not wonderful, but the birds "naturally want to do this thing in their lives and we're going to send their owners to prison for this, yet we allow people to go ahead and murder their unborn babies."

Utah is the only state in the West where cockfighting is a misdemeanor, said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake.

He said cockfighting encourages people from Utah, as well as out of state visitors, to participate in gambling and illegal drug and alcohol abuse, and it attracts people from other states.

"This is a problem," he said. "Utah is running the risk of becoming an underground gambling circuit for this horrendous activity."

The bill would also make it a class B misdemeanor to attend a cockfight. It was passed by the Senate and now goes to the House.

Parents must sign consent and be present for minor's tattoo or piercing
Jeffrey D. Allred

A bill would require parents to give written consent as well as be present when a minor gets a tattoo or piercing.

HB117 was passed 68-1 in the House and now goes on to the Senate.

Under the bill, a tattoo or piercing artist who unknowingly works on minors can avoid consequences if they can provide a photocopy of the minor's ID. The business is protected even if the minor provided a fake ID, said Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, the bill's sponsor.