Hate crimes measure among plans for 2018 legislation

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah measure that ramps up punishment for those found guilty of hate crimes is one of a handful of bills lawmakers plan to run again in the 2018 legislative session, reviving their efforts after one, two or even three failed attempts during previous sessions.

May 9 was the first day that legislators can start filing their planned legislation for next year. On Monday, lawmakers had already posted plans for dozens of new and previously considered measures.

Here are some key bills that lawmakers plan to run again:


A Utah lawmaker says he plans to run a measure that would give heavier punishments to defendants who are found guilty of committing a crime to terrorize groups of people based on factors like race, gender and religion. Republican Daniel Thatcher said Friday that he introduced a similar bill during the recently competed legislative session, but it was never given a public hearing because of strong opposition from some lawmakers. Thatcher says he expects the measure to be similar to the one he ran in 2017, but he may slightly tone down the enhanced punishments for some crimes. He says he expects this change to increase support for the measure and is confident it will pass.



Republican Rep. Paul Ray says that he plans to revisit a measure that would tax electronic cigarettes in a similar fashion to tobacco cigarettes. He says he hopes boosting the price will help to curb young people’s use of the product, saying the product is very unhealthy. “We know that if we price these at the right price points, kids won’t use them because they can’t afford them,” he said Friday. The measure is expected to add about an 86 percent tax to e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-powered electronic vaporizers that heat liquid nicotine into an inhalable mist. They began to appear in the U.S. in late 2006 and marketing has increased exponentially in recent years.



For the fourth year in a row, Democratic Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck is planning to run a bill that would allow terminally ill adults who are expected to live six months or less to choose to end their lives. She said Friday that she plans to revisit the measure because some patients want to have the option and constituents throughout the state are pushing for the legislation. The proposal will likely be similar to the one she introduced during the 2017 session and include such safeguards as requiring that the patient is mentally competent and having two physicians sign off on the prognosis.

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