Updates on gas tax, sex abuse, clean air and other important bills to watch

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Gas tax

A compromise bill on the gas tax is in the works. The Senate Monday passed a bill raising the tax 5 cents immediately then increasing it by a penny each year for the next four years. The House is working on its own version.

Tesla

The House has killed a bill that would have allowed Tesla motors to sell cars in Utah. After a heated debate, Rep. Kim Coleman’s bill died by a 32-41 vote.

Sex abuse

The House unanimously passed a bill that eliminates the statute of limitations in certain sex abuse cases. The bill also increases the age for a victim from 14 to 18 in cases involving someone in a position of special trust. It now goes on to the Senate.

Becky Lockhart Memorial Highway

The House unanimously passed a bill to rename a chunk of I-15 after former House Speaker Becky Lockhart.

The bill names a portion of I-15 from Lehi to Spanish Fork the “Rebecca Lockhart Memorial Highway.” Lockhart, the first woman speaker of Utah’s House, died last year from a rare brain disorder.

The bill goes on to the senate.

Arts funding

A bill that provides about a million dollars for local arts funding cleared the Senate Monday by a 25-2 vote. The bill would allow for money over the next three years to community programs to bolster the arts in Utah.

It now goes on to the House.

Township incorporation

A bill that lets parts of unincorporated Salt Lake County vote to incorporate or merge with another city has cleared a hurdle in the senate. S-b 199 passed 21-6. It has one more vote in the Senate before going to the House.

Oktoberfest

A bill that clarifies Utah liquor laws after the Oktoberfest fiasco has passed the house unanimously.

Rep. Curt Oda’s bill gives more direction to how the DABC hands out liquor permits for festivals and events. It also includes more safeguards to ensure minors don’t get alcohol. The bill was run after an embarrassing flap where the DABC considered yanking the permit for Snowbird’s popular Oktoberfest.

The bill goes on to the Senate.

Prostitution

The House has unanimously passed a bill that would change Utah’s prostitution law.

Lawmakers say it closes a loophole in the law. It’s illegal to pay for sex, but now it will be illegal to pay for it with food or goods.

The bill now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

Utah test and training range

The House unanimously passed a resolution supporting the expansion of the Utah test and training range.

The bill lends support for a land swap between the state and federal government that would allow for the military testing range to expand.

The bill goes on to the governor.

Liquor sales variances

The Senate shot down a bill that would have allowed for variances on liquor sales near playgrounds.

Senate bill 221 died on a 17-10 vote. The bill would have made some changes about where liquor sales could take place and its proximity to community locations.

Clean air

A bill that would have increased the penalties for clean air violators died in the Senate on a close vote.

Sen. luz escamilla’s S-B 208 was defeated in a 12-to-14 vote. It would have increased the penalties and lengthened the statute of limitations for clean air violations.

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