New laws: What to expect in Utah, other states starting Jan. 1


The new year marks the start of numerous new state laws affecting a broad swath of life — from birth to marriage to death and, of course, taxes.

The Utah Legislature’s 2018 general session ended March 8, and a slew of new laws took effect shortly thereafter. Seventeen were set to begin Dec. 30 and into 2019; other laws were passed during special sessions.

The Beehive State has adopted the nation’s strictest drunken driving threshold — 0.05 percent blood alcohol content. It went into effect Sunday, lowering the standard from 0.08 percent BAC. The state’s hospitality and ski industries have expressed concern that the new law will exacerbate Utah’s reputation as a Mormon-dominated state where it’s tough to get a drink. But proponents include the National Transportation Safety Board, which says people start to become impaired with a first drink.

With the new year, Utah and at least a half-dozen other states will begin enforcing sales tax laws on some out-of-state retailers. Utah lawmakers passed the legislation during a special session in mid-July.

Sandy Republican Rep. Steve Eliason, who sponsored the bill in the House, said at the time: “It’s simply collecting tax that has been and always been owed by the purchaser.”

Utah already collects roughly $140 million in taxes under voluntary agreements with major online businesses such as Amazon and Airbnb. To incentivize those companies, the state has allowed them to keep up to 18 percent of collected sales taxes. That incentive will end in January.

The U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for states to collect billions in additional sales taxes from online retailers with a ruling in June. Some states began collecting those taxes before the new year.

Public school revisions also will kick in Tuesday. House Bill 313 focuses on charter schools and cleans up the law, amending definitions, repealing outdated rules and making technical corrections. Individuals will be allowed to report rule violations to the State Board of Education. Among the oversight issues addressed in the legislation is that Senate consent will be required for membership appointments to the State Charter School Board. Also, the Board of Education must establish minimum standards for charter school applications and compliance. The law repeals rules related to Board of Education approval of charter school applications given the green light by the State Charter School Board or a board of trustees at a higher education institution.

Two new laws address fees for motor homes and off-highway vehicles. Senate Bill 169 changes the rules regarding the uniform statewide fee for motor homes, enacting an age-based policy. The fee ranges from $90 for a motor home older than 15 years to $690 for one less than 3 years old.

The second, H.B. 143, changes the registration and uniform statewide fees for all-terrain vehicles, certain motorcycles, and snowmobiles. Sen. Evan Vickers, who represents Beaver, Iron and Washington counties, was the floor sponsor. The registration fee for OHVs will not be able to exceed $35, up from $18, and the fee for street-legal ATVs can’t exceed $72. In addition, the Motor Vehicles Department now will require $1 to go to the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Rehabilitation Fund; that is an increase of 50 cents.

Statewide fees for ATVs and certain motorcycles will no longer be the same as those for snowmobiles. Non-street-legal ATVs or other motorcycle fees will range from $4 for those 12 years or older to $18 for those less than 3 years old; street legal ATVs will be $4-38. Snowmobile fees will be $10-$45 based on the same age ranges.

New laws being enacted across U.S.

Here is a national look at some other new laws, most of which start Tuesday:

ABORTION

States continue to move in different directions. A new Washington law will require contraception coverage in health insurance and, if a policy covers maternity care, also will require it to cover abortions.

A Kansas law, facing a court challenge, bans telemedicine abortions, in which patients seeking abortion pills consult with doctors through teleconferencing.

In Tennessee, a new law says if an ultrasound is performed before an abortion, the woman must be given the opportunity to learn the results.

Arizona will require increased state reporting about abortions, and providers must ask women if they were coerced into seeking the procedure or are victims of sex trafficking or sexual assault.

ASSISTED SUICIDE

Hawaii will become the sixth state, along with Washington, D.C., to legalize medically assisted suicide. The law will allow doctors to fulfill requests from terminally ill patients for fatal prescription medication. Two health care providers must confirm a patient’s diagnosis, prognosis and ability to make decisions about the prescription.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Louisiana constitutional amendment, approved by voters, will require unanimous juries in order to convict people of serious felony crimes. It reverses a Jim Crow-era practice that had allowed as few as 10 members of a 12-person jury to convict defendants in cases not involving death sentences. Oregon will now be the only state to allow convictions under split juror verdicts.

A California law will prohibit people age 15 and younger from being tried as adults for crimes.

DRUNKEN DRIVING

An Idaho law will require first-time convicted drunken drivers to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles for one year.

EQUALITY

A new Oregon law will expand equal pay requirements. The law extends an existing prohibition on sex-based pay discrimination to also include race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability and age. Pay differences must be based on seniority, merit, experience and other factors. Employees who prevail in complaints with the state Bureau of Labor and Industries can recover back pay for up to two years.

California will require corporate boards of publicly traded companies to include women by the end of 2019.

GUNS

One new Illinois law will extend the current 72-hour waiting period for purchasing handguns to all firearms; another will allow relatives or law officers to ask courts to remove guns from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

California, which already bars people younger than 21 from buying handguns, will extend that to long guns with a few exceptions for military members and licensed hunters. The state also will ban guns for people with certain domestic violence misdemeanors and require eight hours of training and live-fire exercises to carry concealed weapons.

IMMIGRANTS

A Tennessee law will ban local governments from having “sanctuary” policies for people living in the country illegally. It bans local government policies that restrict compliance with federal immigration detainers. The law threatens to withhold future state economic development money from those that don’t comply.

Colorado will make it easier for immigrants living in the country illegally to renew state driver’s licenses. The state has been issuing such licenses since 2014, but they had to be renewed in person every three years at one of just three state offices devoted to that purpose. The law’s Republican sponsors argued the economies of their rural districts were at stake.

MARRIAGE

The minimum marriage age in New Hampshire will rise to 16 — up from 13 for girls and 14 for boys. The new law was championed by Cassie Levesque, who was a senior in high school in 2017 when she began her two-year push to raise the marriage age as part of a Girl Scouts project. The experience led her to run for a state House seat, which she won in November. Another new law prohibits judges from signing off on marriages involving a person under the age of consent unless there is clear and convincing evidence the marriage is in the child’s best interest.

MINIMUM WAGE

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