Medical marijuana, liquor laws, death penalty back on Utah Legislature’s priority list

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SALT LAKE CITY — Liquor laws, medical marijuana and the death penalty are back on Utah lawmakers’ priority lists for legislation to be considered over the next year.

The House Majority Office released a list of items to be studied in interim committees over the summer leading up to to the 2017 legislative session in January. They include:

  • Alcoholic beverage control policy: Several bills were run taking aim at Utah’s liquor laws, including one to tear down so-called “Zion Curtains” that went nowhere. The Business & Labor Interim Committee has agreed to look at it.
  • The Grand Boulevards Corridor Plan: Described as a “master planning effort relative to creating a first-class entrance and exit to Salt Lake City.”
  • Motion picture and tourism incentives to lure business to Utah.
  • A look at the caucus and primary processes, as well as a look at the results of same-day voter registration.
  • Medical marijuana: The Health and Human Services Committee put this on their list “regarding any draft legislation that is essentially ready for introduction during the 2017 General Session.”
  • Opioids Use and Misuse:  “Studying the underlying causes of the problem and considering steps the Legislature might take to either enable or motivate patients, prescribers, dispensers, state regulators, community organizations, and others to take additional action to stem the epidemic.”
  • Access to health care and poverty
  • End of life options: The bill critics call “assisted suicide” and supporters say gives them a choice when facing terminal illnesses is going to be studied, as its sponsor, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, has vowed to keep bringing it back until it passes.
  • Indigent defense: Putting this on the list indicates lawmakers plan to do more on your right to an attorney, with several audits and reports slamming the state over its indigent defense system. The ACLU has also threatened a lawsuit.
  • Death penalty: Lawmakers considered a repeal of capital punishment in Utah, but the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee this year indicates it may look at “What options does the state have to make the process more efficient? What are other states doing to decrease the length of stay on death row?”
  • Air quality and public lands: The Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee will take a look at what legislation needs to be done to address these hot topics.
  • Substance abuse center zoning: The Political Subdivisions Interim Committee has a request to look at zoning laws related to licensing and zoning for substance abuse centers.
  • The Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee is looking at when to end solar tax credits, as well as other tax issues.
  • Drones: The Transportation Interim Committee will look at unmanned aircraft legislation.

Lawmakers meet in interim session typically once a month from April through November.

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