ST. GEORGE — The 2024 general session of the Utah Legislature closed with the passage of another record-setting number of bills.

In this file photo, Utah Senate President Stuart Adams gives his opening speech to kick off the state’s 2024 legislative session in Salt Lake City, Jan. 16, 2024, in Salt Lake City | AP Photo by Hannah Schoenbaum, St. George News

The 45-day legislative session saw 591 bills pass this year over last year’s 575. This includes 156 passed during the final day of the session with over 900 bills introduced overall.

Among this year’s more notable bills were ones dealing with transgender issues, sports stadiums and diversity, equity and inclusion policies in higher education. The Legislature passed several bills related to water and the Great Salt Lake, as well as housing and homelessness, and cut the state’s income tax rate.

The Legislature also passed a $29 billion budget for the coming fiscal year. The budget bill is sometimes referred to as the “bill of bills” and provides a look at what lawmakers see as funding priorities. A breakdown of funding can be found at this link.

What follows are highlights from the 2024 session of the Utah Legislature and what did and did not pass along the way.


Energy bills proposed by Southern Utah Rep. Colin Jack that passed the Legislature included HB 48, HB 191 and HB 374. These bills have a common goal of “keeping the lights on.” They seek to prevent the early retirement of established power generators if there is no replacement of equal or greater generation capacity set up to take their place. They also seek to protect the state from perceived federal overreach by restricting the state’s adoption of federal programs that could lead to the early closure of electrical plants.

In this file photo, Colin Jack speaks at a candidate debate for House District 73 had at the Dixie Convention Center, St. George, Utah, May 19, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

With the passing of Jack’s energy legislation, lawmakers have taken an “all of the above” approach to securing reliable sources of energy for the state that includes traditional fossil fuels to nuclear power and “detachable” energy. The legislation also outlines that energy sources be considered in the following order of priority: adequate, reliable, dispatchable, affordable, sustainable, secure and clean.

Education and school safety

The Legislature provided $212 million for a 5% increase in weighted pupil spending in the state budget. Funding was also provided for a teacher retention program.

Several bills related to school safety were also passed and await the governor’s signature.

Among them is HB 84, School Safety Amendments, which is a multifaceted measure that establishes a system for school safety incidents. The bill includes a $100 million appropriation of one-time funding to the State Board of Education’s School Safety and Support Grant Program. It was sponsored by Rep. Ryan Wilcox, with Sen. Don Ipson serving as the Senate sponsor.

Wilcox and Ipson also teamed up to sponsor HB 14, School Threat Penalty Amendments, which increases the penalties associated with threatening or falsely reporting an emergency at a school.

Also passing was HB 45, which extends the life of the SafeUT app program and School Safety Commission for another five years (until Jan. 1, 2030).

In this file photo, Cindy Bullock, Timpanogos Academy secretary, participates in shooting drills at the Utah County Sheriff’s Office shooting range during the teacher’s academy training in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah, June 29, 2019 | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

Additionally, HB 119, or School Employee Firearm Possession Amendments, creates a program to incentivize school teachers to responsibly secure or carry a firearm on school grounds and to receive annual training from local sheriff’s offices. After an amended version passed in the Senate on Feb. 28 by a vote of 19-6-4, it went back to the House for another vote, where it passed 53-13-9. It now awaits the governor’s signature.

Alliance for a Better Utah and other groups have asked the governor to veto HB 119, as they claim its implementation “is going to end in disaster.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion programs in higher education

HB 261, the Prohibition of Discriminatory Practices in Higher Education and Public Institutions Act, was passed and has been signed into law by the governor. This legislation addresses the conduct of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs within higher education and public institutions in Utah, outlining specific prohibitions and definitions related to equal opportunity initiatives.

The bill mandates that institutions cannot require individuals to participate in training or provide submissions that promote differential treatment based on various characteristics, such as race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, or gender identity.


Early in the session, both houses passed the sex-based designations for privacy, anti-bullying, and women’s opportunities bill, designated as HB 257, which established a standard for transgender individuals access to public restrooms while mandating more gender-neutral bathrooms in public buildings.

It also codified Title IX into state law and mandated schools to provide more space and practice times for female sports.

In this file photo, attendees listen to speakers and music during a rally at Utah Tech’s Gardner Plaza in support of transgender individuals and against a passed Utah bill that would regulate how they can use public bathrooms, St. George, Utah, Jan. 30, 2024 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The bill drew criticism from the Southern Utah LGBTQ community and supporters in a rally at Utah Tech on Jan. 30 who said it would promote segregation and potentially violence not only against transgender individuals but also people born as women and men who have characteristics of the opposite sex.

Hours after the protest, Gov. Spencer Cox signed the bill into law, and in a response days later to the protest, Cox said while he had sympathy, there needs to be a balance that includes those who feel uncomfortable in a bathroom with a transgender individual who has not fully transitioned.

“There are women who do not feel safe when they’re in a locker room with a biological male, a transgender female,” he said in response to a question from St. George News. “And so we have competing interests. We have to balance those two things.”

A few weeks later, the Legislature censured Natalie Cline, a member of the state school board, after she insinuated on social media that a girls basketball player with short hair in Northern Utah was transgender, forcing extra security at school for the teen who is not transgender.

Professional and collegiate sports

HB 562 passed and creates funding for the creation of a Major League Baseball stadium in Salt Lake City as a part of an overall bid to bring an MLB team to the state. The bill creates a special district near the Utah State Fairpark that will take sales tax from the Larry H. Miller Company’s development plans to help pay for the state-owned stadium. Construction of the stadium is estimated to run $900 million with overall efforts to bring in a major league team running up to $4 billion

This file photo shows Utah Tech’s Breaunna Gillen, here in a file photo, and the Trailblazers play at UTRGV Thursday at 11 a.m., Edinburg, Texas, Feb. 1, 2024 | Photo by Stan Plewe, Utah Tech Athletics Media Relations, St. George News

A related bill that also passed creates a reinvestment zone in Salt Lake City for a joint basketball and hockey arena.

A bill that would block public funds from being used for collegiate student-athlete agreements also passed. This bill also restricts what type of items can be endorsed by the student-athletes while making endorsement deals exempt from the public record.


The Legislature dealt with a range of water and Great Salt Lake-related bills this session.

HB 11, a bill limiting the use of “nonfunctional” grass in the construction of new government buildings, passed the Legislature. HB 61, which adds telemetry to water measurement devices, also passed. Another bill that passed is HB 62, which creates a curriculum that Utah’s schools can voluntarily use that covers Utah’s water cycle, the history of the state’s water use and Utah’s various water systems.

HB 453, which passed, focuses on the Great Salt Lake and deals with the royalty fees and severance tax of companies that extract minerals from the lake.

This file photo shows the shore of Quail Creek Reservoir on a windy day, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 25, 2023 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

SB 211, Generational Water Infrastructure Amendments, passed the Legislature and creates a Water Development Council made up of the state’s four largest water districts and a governor-appointed water agent who will act as a liaison to coordinate with the council to make sure the state’s water needs are met. Opponents of the bill are not happy about it exempting the council’s activities from public records laws.

SB 125, Secondary Water Amendments, also passed. The bill follows up on legislation that passed in 2022 that requires secondary water use in the state to be metered. The bill carves out exemptions on secondary water metering for rural water systems.

Whether to enforce federal policy

SB 57, a bill from Sen. Scott Sandall that would put a pause on the state agencies enforcing questionable federal policy until either upheld or struck down in court, passed the Legislature. While supporters say the bill will help the state and private sector from wasting time and resources on enacting policy that could be stuck down, opponents argue the action may be unconstitutional and invite lawsuits against the state.

First responders and mental health

HB 67, dubbed the First Responder Mental Health Services Grant, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Wilcox and Sen. Don Ipson, expands eligibility for the mental health services program as well as the number of institutions at which a recipient may use a grant under the program. In addition, it would change the way program amounts are computed.

The bill amends HB 23, which passed in 2022 and provided $5 million to emergency agencies for access to mental health resources for all first responders and their families.

The file photo shows St. George Police conducting surveillance near the Canyon Media parking lot during a manhunt, Dec. 18, 2023 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Wilcox said the bill was designed to clarify several elements in the mental health scholarship program since problems arose during implementation, including the amount of the scholarship, which is $6,000 per year per applicant, and to expand the application period.

The bill passed the House and then the Senate with a unanimous vote, and on Feb. 12, the draft of the bill was enrolled and submitted for the governor’s signature.

Environment, wildlife and public lands

HB 151, which would have required the state to inventory land overseen by the Bureau of Land Management near municipalities, failed.

HB 195, the land use planning amendments bill, would have required municipalities to consider potential impacts on wildlife in land use planning. This bill also failed.

HB 243, the riparian amendments bill, underwent several changes, from requiring municipalities to consider riparian areas in their planning and rewarding them for doing so, while also providing resources to local governments interested in improving riparian areas. It did not pass.

Under HB 363, the Livestock Grazing Amendments bill, the state of Utah considers livestock grazing to be a right. While it doesn’t change federal statutes, the bill’s sponsor considers the bill to be a “tool” for negotiations with federal agencies. The bill passed and awaits the governor’s signature.

HB 496, Public Land Use Amendments, also passed. This bill requires the Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office to recognize and promote multiple uses and sustained yields on federal public lands in Utah. Additionally, it prohibits natural asset companies from purchasing or leasing state public lands.


Stock image, St. George News

HB 297, Utah Bee Inspection Act Amendments, restricts the ability of local governments to regulate beekeeping with exceptions that will be based on recommendations from a working group. It aims to reduce beekeeping restrictions on private land. The bill passed both houses and waits for the governor’s signature.

Alcohol and vaping

HB 548 passed last week, which will hike the markup price of alcohol from 88% to 88.5%, as well as raise the price of beer kegs by $1 over the next four years. The bill will also allow more alcohol business licenses to be issued in coming years. It takes effect May 1.

Passing on the final day of the legislative session, SB 61, an anti-vaping bill, bans the sale of flavored vape products in the state and limits the overall sale of vape products to sales approved by the Food and Drug Administration. While supporters tout it as a way to curtail the use of e-cigarettes by minors, opponents claim the bill will kill the vape industry in Utah. The president of the Utah Vapor Business Association has said the group will likely sue the state over the bill, which takes effect July 1.

Taxes and economy

For a third year, the Legislature lowered the income tax rate, this time from 4.65% to 4.55%. This equates to an annual savings of $65 for the average Utah family.

The state’s child tax credit was expanded to include children who are at least 1-4 years old.

An attempt by a local legislator to create a new avenue to help raise funds for fire departments and emergency medical services initially had smooth sailing in the Utah House but fell just one Senate vote short of reaching the governor’s desk.

This fire photo shows Santa Clara-Ivins Fire and Rescue responding to a crash on Santa Clara Drive in Santa Clara, Utah, March 6, 2023 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Local option sales tax amendments, designated HB 442, would have allowed cities in Washington County to implement an up to 1% increase in sales taxes to increase revenues for EMS services.

Cities like Santa Clara and Ivins had been looking to the bill, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Elison, to provide an avenue for needed funds for their local combined fire department.

“I don’t want to increase anybody’s taxes. That is not the objective here,” Elison told St. George News. “I want to find a way to allow maybe some of that tourist traffic to help cover our costs.”

After a unanimous committee vote, the House approved the bill 72-0 with three abstentions on Feb. 22. A Senate committee voted 3-1, with four absent, on Feb. 27 to advance the bill to the full Senate, but it never received a vote.

HB 78 passed and builds on legislation passed in 2022 that set up the Rural Motion Picture Incentive program with a sunset date of 2025. Under the recently passed bill, the cut-off or “sunset date” for film incentives has been removed and there will only be a review. The bill is seen as a way to help boost local economies where the movies and TV shows are filmed in the state.

Law and Crime

Passing was the Road Rage Amendments bill, HB 30, which identifies road rage as a criminal offense, imposes fines and possible jail time and creates funding for preventive educational campaigns.

The law first defines road rage and what is required to obtain road rage “enhancements,” First, the driver must commit a traffic violation or a criminal offense, such as careless/reckless driving or assault. Second, there must be an intent to endanger or intimidate another driver or escalate an incident that can be proven by prosecutors.

Stock image | Photo by HJBC/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

The money raised from additional fines and enhancements will go directly back into a road rage prevention education fund the Department of Public Safety will use to run commercials and social media ads.

Utah law enforcement and emergency responders could see a decrease in false statements made when a person is being arrested for drugs. Utah Rep. Ken Ivory and Sen. Keith Grover introduced the penalty for false statements during a drug arrest bill, designated HB 211, in the 2023 Utah State Legislature, but time expired.

Effective May 1, unless vetoed by Gov. Spencer Cox, those who lie about ingesting narcotics now face stiffer penalties. Southern Utah law enforcement officers spoke to St. George News about the frequency of such occurrences. Unified Police Department Sgt. Aymee Race said the practice is all too common in Salt Lake City, where suspects potentially try the tactic to delay going to jail.

A bill geared toward using automation to slow Utah drivers in school and construction zones, dubbed the Traffic Enforcement Amendments bill and designated as HB 201, would have allowed for the use of speed safety cameras, also known as photo radar or automated speed enforcement.

The bill in its original form was not adopted and failed to pass the House on March 1.

Iron County Jail funding

Failing to pass was HB 113, or Rural County Jail Facilities Tax, which would have allowed counties of the third through the sixth class to impose a sales tax of up to 0.4% to help fund the construction of correctional facilities. It was sponsored by Rep. Rex Shipp (R-Cedar City), with Sen. Evan Vickers (R-Cedar City) serving as Senate sponsor. Although it passed unanimously in the House on Jan. 29 and made it through a Senate committee, it made it only as far as the Senate’s second reading calendar before being put on hold, never coming up for a vote.

Nevertheless, Iron County officials seeking alternative funding options for a new county jail may be able to take advantage of HB 488, or Transportation Funding Modifications, which passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate. Included in the lengthy bill is a provision that enables counties in the third through sixth class that opt to impose a sales tax of up to 0.3%, as authorized by the bill, to use the collected revenues for public safety purposes.


A bill allowing clergy to report confessions of child abuse passed the Legislature. Bills of this sort were previously introduced with many aiming to make reporting by clergy mandatory. These attempts have failed. Under HB 432, sponsored by Rep. Anthony Loubet, a member of the clergy is not required to report the confession yet is granted civil and criminal liability protections if they do. The bill is similar to one proposed by Rep. Brian King that was introduced this year, yet never made it through the Legislature.

A bill that originally sought to have the Ten Commandments displayed in schools was changed. Instead, the Ten Commandments, along with the Manga Carta, will be added to the list of historical documents to be taught in Utah schools.

Transportation and roads

Utah “Life Elevated Arches” standard license plate, current issue, undated | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles, St. George News

Utahns will no longer be required to have a license plate on the front of their cars with the passing of SB 45. The bill streamlines the process of producing license plates while also saving the state and taxpayers money. It allows Utah Highway Patrol troopers to use license plate readers to enter someone’s plate number into a computer while pulling someone over.

A bill allowing motorcycles to “lane filter” on off-ramps also passed.

Artificial intelligence

HB 131, Information Technology Act Amendments, passed the Legislature. The bill targets the use of artificial intelligence in political ads and requires candidates to disclose whether AI is used in political advertisements.

Housing and homelessness

The Legislature saw various bills addressing housing and homelessness including HB 168, which creates a statewide building code for modular homes in an effort to streamline the process of building and selling such homes in the state.

Legislators approved $66 million for housing and homeless items, which includes funding for affordable housing, mental health services shelters for families and the elderly, as well as detox facilities and youth shelters in Southern Utah. An additional $15 million from the Utah Impact Partnership is also going toward these efforts.

The majority of the state funding – $50.7 million – is going toward emergency shelter, with $11.1 million to mental health and $4.4 to homelessness prevention.

Applying personhood

HB 249, also known as Utah Legal Personhood Amendments, prohibits a government entity from granting or recognizing legal personhood in certain categories of nonhumans, such as bodies of water, animals and artificial intelligence. It was sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks (R-St. George), with Sen. Don Ipson (R-St. George) serving as the Senate sponsor. As previously reported, it passed in both the House and the Senate and now awaits the governor’s signature. If signed into law, it would take effect on May 1.

Marriage and family

The marriage modifications bill, designated HB 134, was sponsored by Republican Rep. Anthony E. Loubet who told St. George News this bill addresses the validation and recognition of marriage regardless of the race, ethnicity or national origin of the marrying parties. He said his legislation clarifies the current law.

In this file photo, the Utah House of Representatives is shown during the final night of the 2023 Utah Legislature at the Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 3, 2023 | AP Photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

HB 272, Child Custody Proceedings Amendments, passed. It aims to make child safety the first priority in child custody and parenting decisions. The bill came after a 16-year-old boy was killed by his father and aims to protect children during child custody battles by recognizing signs of abuse and trauma.

The bill focuses on the family court system and the steps needed to reduce domestic and family violence. It makes changes to the requirement for expert testimony and requires reunification treatment to include proof of safety, effectiveness and therapeutic value. According to the new law, the court will also create a training program for child custody workers to recognize trauma, psychological control and other signs of abuse.

Resolutions of note

Last year on Dec. 7, Washington City Mayor Kress Staheli and councilman Kurt Ivie gave speeches during the city’s first Pearl Harbor and USS Utah Remembrance Day, to be held annually on the day the United States was attacked in Hawaii during World War II.

On Feb. 28, a concurrent resolution sponsored by Rep. Joseph Elison and Sen. Evan Vickers was signed by Cox. The resolution encourages all communities in Utah to remember the 58 officers and servicemen who died on Dec. 7, 1941.

“The USS Utah comments from the senators are tremendous,” Ivie texted St. George News from the House floor. “We are planning a ceremonial signing to be held in the future.”

HJR 19, Joint Resolution Encouraging Support for the Houses Act, passed and signifies the Legislature’s support of Sen. Mike Lee’s HOUSES Act. Lee’s bill would amend the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to allow state and local governments to nominate a parcel of BLM land that could be used for residential development.

St. George News reporters Bridger Palmer, Alysha Lundgren, Chris Reed, Jeff Richards, Cody Blowers, Jessi Bang, Stephanie DeGraw and Haven Scott contributed to this article.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2024 Utah Legislature by clicking here.

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