A Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Gregory S. Bell, R-Fruit Heights, would create a system for compensating individuals wrongfully convicted of a crime.
SB16 would establish a payment rate and schedule for a person found innocent after being convicted of a crime.
Compensation would be based on the average annual income rate for an individual in Utah, which Bell placed at about $35,000. This amount would be awarded for each year of incarceration in prison or on death row. Bell said that large, one-time payouts would be avoided by a schedule that pays 20 percent of compensation initially, with the remaining balance paid out over time.
Bell noted that this bill reflects a national effort by states to establish a procedure for compensation in cases of wrongful conviction. Other states have been faced with cases resulting in compensation awards in the millions.
"This is a modest, but far-sighted way to address these problems," Bell said.
Funding for compensations would be issued from the state's Crime Victims Reparations fund, as well as some possible additional federal monies. SB was passed by the Senate for a third reading.
Sen. Carlene M. Walker, R-Cottonwood Heights, is sponsoring a bill that would bring the cost of living adjustments for retired public safety employees in line with the benefits enjoyed by other retired public employees.
Currently, a disparity exists in adjustments made to retirement compensations, which are tied to changes in the Consumer Price Index. For all retired public employees, with the exception of those retired from the public safety sector, that adjustment maxes out at 4 percent. Adjustments for public safety retirees is capped at 2.5%. Walker's bill would adjust the rate for retired public safety employees to the higher rate.
Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, voiced her support of Walker's bill. Mayne was chosen by local Democratic delegates to replace her husband, Ed, who died recently.
"I have been the recipient of retirement funds after Ed's death ... ...this is a fairness issue," she said. "Things happen in life that we can't control."
SB 19 was passed by the Senate for a third reading.