The Latest: More rights for teens fleeing polygamous groups
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Latest on the final day of Utah’s Legislative session (all times local):
Utah lawmakers have passed a proposal that could give teenagers fleeing polygamous communities get more legal protection from parents who could expose them to sexual abuse.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill Thursday night, advancing it to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk.
Republican Rep. Walt Brooks says that if a teenager runs away from home, anyone they run to must inform their parents within eight hours.
He says that has allowed adults in some instances to take teenagers back to polygamous communities even if they didn’t want to go.
His measure would give those teens time to file for legal emancipation or more control over where they’re placed.
Utah lawmakers have signed off on a plan to expand Medicaid to tens of thousands of the state’s poor.
The Republican-backed plan is headed to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk after winning a key vote from Utah’s Senate Thursday evening.
It calls for insuring about 70,000 people living just under the poverty line but would require participants to work and cap enrollment in the program.
Work requirements and caps haven’t traditionally been allowed in Medicaid, but President Donald Trump’s administration has offered to be more flexible with states.
It comes as a group of Utah residents are working on a ballot initiative to ask voters this fall to open up the state-federal health program to about twice as many people.
Gov. Gary Herbert says he’s open to approving a $1.65 million lawsuit against California over rules that make coal-fired power more expensive.
The Republican governor initially said the cost of the lawsuit seems “exorbitant” and suggested that the coal industry foot the bill.
But Herbert told The Associated Press in a Thursday interview that he’s since met with the legal team legislators hope would argue the case on the state’s behalf.
Herbert says he heard their argument of how California’s policies violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause and hurt coal miners in rural Utah.
Herbert says he said he’ll take a hard look at whether to approve the funding but said, “I feel a lot of better about it.”
He also says the legal team may not need to spend all $1.65 million.
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Utah lawmakers were winding down their annual session Thursday after opening a record number of bills but failing to pass proposals on hot-button issues, including a repeal of the death penalty and a gun-control measure.
Instead, legislators used their 45-day session to settle a $16.7 billion budget, make modest changes to the state’s tax laws and attempt to head off a number of looming ballot initiatives.
In the final week of the session, legislators also crafted a deal to find more money for schools as part of a deal with backers of a ballot initiative who sought to hike other taxes for the same cause.
That deal, which would freeze property taxes and ask voters in November whether the state should raise gas taxes by 10 cents a gallon, was still working its way through the Legislature Thursday.