Capitol CornerFeb 08, 2024 02:24PM ● By Becky Ginos
Compiled by Becky Ginos
Lawmakers have just finished week four of the legislative session and a lot has happened. Here’s a brief look at some of the bills being considered on Capitol Hill.
Governor signs multiple bills
As of Jan. 31, Gov. Spencer Cox had signed six bills on Jan. 30 and another four bills on Jan. 31 from the 2024 General Legislative Session. The bills are as follows:
• SB 1 Higher Education Base Budget
• SB 4 Business, Economic Development, and Labor Base Budget
• SB 6 Infrastructure and General Government Base Budget
• SB 7 National Guard, Veterans Affairs, and Legislature Base Budget
• HB 257 Sex-based Designations for Privacy, Anti-bullying, and Women’s Opportunities
• HB 261 Equal Opportunity Initiatives
On two controversial bills Gov. Cox issued the following statements:
HB 257, “We want public facilities that are safe and accommodating for everyone and this bill increases privacy protections for all.”
HB 261, “We’ve been concerned about some DEI programs and policies, particularly with hiring practices, and this bill offers a balanced solution. I’m grateful to the Legislature for not following the lead of other states that simply eliminated DEI funding with no alternative path for students who may be struggling. Instead, this funding will be repurposed to help all Utah students succeed regardless of their background.
“We firmly believe that Utah is stronger because of our diversity and we remain committed to keeping our state a place where everyone can thrive. Over the past three years, our administration has worked very intentionally with many community stakeholders to expand opportunities for all Utahns and we will continue to do so.”
Other bills signed by the Governor on Jan. 31 are:
• HB 5 Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Base Budget
• HB 6 Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Base Budget
• HB 7 Social Services Base Budget
• SB 57 Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act
On SB 57, Gov. Cox issued the following statement:
“Balancing power between state and federal sovereignty is an essential part of our constitutional system. This legislation gives us another way to push back on federal overreach and maintain that balance.”
Enhanced legislation to protect youth from harms of social media
Sen. Mike Mckell, Sen. Kirk Cullimore, Rep. Jordan Teuscher and Rep. Jay Cobb announced on Monday enhanced legislation to protect youth from the harms of social media and empower families with resources to keep children safe, according to a legislative release.
SB194 Social Media Regulation Amendments focuses on platform safety for and parental engagement with minors by:
• Enacting a strict age verification process in order to create a safer experience for minors.
• Disabling certain addictive product features for minor accounts.
• Requiring default robust privacy settings for minors.
• Prohibiting social media companies from sharing or selling minor’s data without parental consent.
• Providing parents or legal guardians with supervision tools for minors’ accounts.
HB464 Social Media Regulation Act Amendments addresses the harmful addictive algorithms that social media companies deploy on children in Utah. The bill:
• Gives minors and their parents or legal guardians the ability to hold social media companies liable for the harm addictive algorithms have caused children through a private right of action.
• Allows social media companies to legally overcome the assumption that their products cause harm if they:
• Obtain parental consent for a minor’s use of the platform
• Remove addictive features and display content chronologically
• Limit a minor’s time on the platform
“Our number one goal is to protect minors from the harmful impacts of social media,” said Rep. Teuscher in a release. “HB 464 and SB 194 put important safeguards in place to protect Utah’s children and gives social media companies time to comply. Utah will continue to lead the nation in finding innovative solutions to complex challenges.”