SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Here’s a look at some recent votes during the current Utah Legislature session:
Straight ticket ban
The option to vote for all candidates of a political party by checking a single box on a ballot could be eliminated under a proposed bill that has gained momentum in Utah.
Some lawmakers believe ending straight-ticket ballots could encourage thoughtful voting and consideration of each race individually, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The bill sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Patrice Arent was advanced by Utah House representatives Thursday. The bill will next head to the Senate for consideration.
“Our county clerks have said this particular issue has caused more confusion — they get more calls about this — than any other issue,” Arent said.
Some voters have checked the box corresponding with their party affiliation and others think they are registering for a particular party by marking the box, she said.
Republican state Rep. Norm Thurston argued the straight-ticket option is not the source of voter confusion.
“I like the idea of preserving that option for those who want to use it,” Thurston said. “No one’s being forced to use it. I don’t think it skews the election results.”
A bill that would expand opportunities for enhanced kindergarten early intervention programs passed the Utah House of Representatives.
The latest version of the bill passed Wednesday would provide additional resources to expand the reach of the program, The Deseret News reported.
The bill is intended to help bring struggling students to grade-level proficiency and above as they enter first grade.
The program is optional to parents, school districts and charter schools. Participating districts and schools must apply for grant funding.
The $18.6 million cost of the bill reflects expansion and replacement of federal funds.
Data from schools that use the program show “significant improvement in children who start kindergarten and who have been assessed and who are behind their peers,” said Republican Rep. Lowry Snow, who sponsored the legislation.
Research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found students who read on grade level when they complete third grade are more likely to graduate and become economically successful, Snow said.
Those who reach that benchmark are less likely to require special education services, become involved in the criminal justice system as juveniles or adults and are 50% less likely to become a teen parent, Snow said.
About 40% of Utah students entering kindergarten need intervention, Snow said.
Republican Rep. Stephen Christiansen questioned providing a separate funding stream for optional enhanced kindergarten instead of placing the funding in the weighted pupil unit, the basic building block of education funding appropriated by state lawmakers.
Tanning bed ban
Lawmakers in the Utah House have passed an updated bill to ban minors from using tanning beds even with parental consent.
An earlier version of the bill that would have prohibited minors from using tanning beds even with a doctor’s note was defeated earlier in the current legislative session, The Deseret News reports.
The new version of the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Brad Daw struck the provision regarding doctor permission.
The House passed the updated bill Thursday and advanced the legislation to the Senate.
Several Republican legislators who originally voted against Daw’s bill spoke in support of the revised measure.
The lawmakers changed their minds about whether the issue was a debate about government control and parental rights and agreed protecting children from skin cancer was more important, they said.
Other House members said the bill would overtake parental responsibility and be difficult or impossible to reinforce.
“If we pass this bill, are we going to send around some sun patrol,” Republican Rep. Tim Quinn said. “I doubt that.”