The Utah Legislature’s 2013 general session ended after passing 524 bills, which exceeds the high water mark of 504 bills passed in the 2011 general session.
Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, said the budget has been a highlight of this session.
“I think we can really point with pride at our budget this year. It was a process that we worked very hard on, and we had a little bit of surplus revenues that we could work with,” Okerlund said. “Education was a big benefactor of the surplus revenue.”
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said higher education was helped in the areas of mission-based funding and equity.
“We also helped health and human services; we were very fortunate this year that we had $17 million of ongoing revenue and $40 million at one time left over from last year,” HIllyard said.
Gun legislation was also a common theme in this session.
Sen. Okerlund said one of these bills, H.B. 114, Second Amendment Preservation Act, is being held in Rules and probably won’t pass without substitutions or amendments.
“The question that I believe is most prevalent out there is how does this affect our relationship with federal officers and how they use those firearms and how we relate to that,” Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said.
Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said this bill is another front on which the constitutional line is being tested including the Montana guns bill that was passed a few years ago.
He said many legislators would like to see where that bill ends up in regards to the Constitution because it will help them define where they should go with future legislation.
“It’s our duty to push back on the federal government. That was a check and balances placed in the constitution,” Niederhauser said.
SB 262, Employment and Housing Anti-discrimination Amendments, caught a lot of attention in the last week of the session but ended when the Senate Rules Committee filed as a defeated bill.
Derek Brown, R-Cottonwood Heights, said this bill would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“For Utah, it’s really a lightning bolt,” Brown said.
Other bills of note that did pass include SB 72, Eight Substitute Prison Relocation and Development Amendments, and HB 228, Fourth Substitute Alcohol Control Act Amendments.