Bills about children - when they should get married, have sex and get tattooed - abounded in the Legislature.
Lawmakers debated how old Utah children should be before they are married and have sex, whether families who adopt children in the state's custody should receive tax credits and if parents should approve their youngster's body piercing or tattoo.Rep. Carl Saunders, R-Ogden, introduced a bill that would prohibit children younger than age 16 from getting married. Currently, teens who are 14 and 15 years old can marry if one parent and a juvenile court judge approve. However, in a close vote Wednesday night, the bill failed.
But those who have sex with 16- and 17-year-olds and are 10 or more years older can now be prosecuted with a third-degree felony. Sponsored by Sen. LeRay McAl-lis-ter, R-Orem, the bill was instigated by a family in Utah County whose teenage son ran off with a 32-year-old woman.
Another new bill approved by lawmakers requires parental consent for someone younger than 18 years old to get a body part pierced or receive a tattoo.
Though it's a crime in Utah to hit a spouse in front of a child, lawmakers stripped references to domestic violence from the amended child-welfare code. Sen. Craig Taylor, R-Kaysville, said it gave the state's Division of Child and Family Services too much power to intervene in families. Officials say children will still be protected under other portions of the law.
Families who adopt children in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services will get tax credits, thanks to a bill sponsored by Rep. J. Brent Haymond, R-Spring-ville. Families will be eligible for up to a $2,500 tax credit per child every four years until the child is 18. The measure will cost the state more than $300,000, but supporters hope it will increase the number of adoptions of children who need homes.