Strictest abortion limits

1. With national attention focused on war in the Middle East, Utah lawmakers passed the nation's most restrictive abortion law, prohibiting all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or severe fetal deformities, and in cases where the health of the mother is threatened. Pro-choice advocates pledged a national boycott of Utah, including a campaign to scuttle Utah's bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

See Page A7

Property-tax reform

2. With a Utah Supreme Court decision throwing the state's property tax system into chaos, lawmakers reformed the old law but in the process shifted some $11 million in property taxes away from large, state-assessed businesses onto the backs of owners of homes and small businesses. See Page B1

$15 million for Salt Palace

3. Lawmakers gave $15 million to Salt Lake County to renovate the aging Salt Palace. They gave Salt Lake County the authority to raise taxes on lodging, with proceeds to go toward the Salt Palace and tourism development. And any county now can tax restaurants to pay for tourism and cultural facilities. See Page A5

$3.5 billion state budget

4. Lawmakers settled on a $3.5 billion budget, but not before lower-than-expected revenue estimates forced them to fund programs at levels that left teachers and social services advocates grumbling. The budget allows for a 5 percent pay-and-benefits package for state and public school employees. See Page A5

Driver's license fee increased

5. Lawmakers said no new taxes, but they went ahead and voted a $5 increase in driver's license fees - with the license period extended by one year - and a 3.5 cents-per-pack increase in cigarettes. They voted down a tax on video rentals. See Page B1

Campaign and lobbyist reforms

6. It was a year of campaign reform and lobbyist reform as lawmakers approved a package of bills requiring political candidates to better disclose campaign contributions and requiring lobbyists to disclose all payments and gifts to elected officials that total $100 or more. See Page A7

Legislator forced to resign

7. Rep. Dionne Halverson, D-Ogden, was forced to resign her seat after a House Ethics Committee recommended the body expel her in the wake of her shoplifting conviction. By resigning, she avoided becoming the first representative in Utah history to be expelled.

Some salaries rise

8. Lawmakers gave public school teachers and state employees a 5 percent pay increase but refused to raise their own salaries from $65 a day to $100 a day. They also refused to raise the salaries of the governor and other officials of the executive branch.

See Page A6

Time runs out on bonding bill

9. Lawmakers quibbled throughout the session over how much to borrow for new buildings, highways and water projects, and when the final bell had sounded they still were quibbling, leaving lawmakers without any bonding bill. That could mean a special session to fund critical projects. See Page A5

$10 million loan for McDonnell Douglas

10. A fund was created to allow McDonnell Douglas to borrow $10 million from the state to expand the company's aircraft assembly plant here even though some lawmakers were reluctant to support the deal because an executive of the aerospace company told them the plant might be closed if the money weren't made available. See Page A6.

Source of ranking: Deseret News political editor Bob Bernick Jr. and legislative writer Jerry Spangler.

Budget news


$1.1 billion budget, a 7 percent increase. The state contributes $832.6 million of that amount.

State will increase per-student expenditure to $1,408 - the weighted pupil unit.

Teacher salary and benefits increase of 3.2 percent, plus 1.8 percent retirement.


$24.17 million increase in state funds, or 8.18 percent.

Total budget of $430 million, with $319 million in state funds.

Growth by 4,623 students funded at $10.1 million.

4.5 percent faculty and staff compensation package, with 3.1 percent for salaries.


Did not adequately fund caseload increases for public assistance and foster care. Welfare grants may have to be reduced and other programs stripped to pay for foster care.

County service providers will not receive cost-of-living adjustments for mental health, substance abuse, aging or local health departments.

Maintain $6 state supplement for blind, disabled and elderly Supplemental Security Income recipients, but gave director of department more discretion.


Did not approve a bonding bill, so there will be no new building projects this year unless there is a special session of the Legislature to amend the budget.


Gave $1 million in supplemental funds to offset a shortfall in the current budget year created when more criminals were sent to prison than budgeters anticipated. Department officials, though, will overspend their budget by $2 million.

Added nearly $500,000 for medical care to inmates, but department officials say that's only about half as much as they need.


The West Valley Highway received $5.5 million in supplemental funds, the result of a budget agreement to bond for the rest of the $7.5 million project. That money was lost when the bonding bill failed to pass.


No new troopers, even though the department had asked for 33 more this year.

An extra $200,000 to cover increased gasoline costs this year plus an additional $180,000 in next year's fuel budget.


Raised the qualifying income level from $310 to $350 for the Medically Needy program, but eliminated the "spend-down" to become eligible.

Received $148,000 to replace outdated or damaged air-quality monitoring equipment around the state.

The top funding priority, early intervention for handicapped children, received only $147,000 of a $3 million request.


Created Industrial Assistance Fund with $10 million so McDonnell Douglas can borrow money to expand its aircraft assembly operation here.

For the second year in a row, didn't restore funding for the Women Business Development Office. The department had asked for $120,000.