Gov. Cox signs multitudes of bills as session ends

Reading Time: 3 minutes Gov. Spencer Cox signed a total of 349 pieces of legislation into law in what was a ‘record’ year for the annual event.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Following an intense 45-day lobbying session that saw various bills and laws revisited and newer ones introduced, the Utah State 2023 legislative session finally came to an end with a host of new rulings being established and codified. 

Lawmakers left no stone unturned in bringing forth and addressing critical and controversial issues facing the Beehive State. An updated total of 349 new pieces of legislation were signed into official law by Gov. Spencer Cox by the time of the end of the plenaries.

Amongst the headliners was the finalizing of a record $29 billion budget, representing the largest in the state’s history. The conclusion of the budget makes provisions for further investments into state resources amidst a water and housing affordability crisis as well as issues regarding education and transportation, addressing some of the state’s most pressing concerns. 

A main controversial touchpoint in the early phase of the sessions centered around transgender rights and healthcare procedures. During the event, Gov. Cox approved a bill that immediately went into effect,  placing a ban on transgender surgeries on minors under the age of 18. The new bill prohibits minors not medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria from getting any form of gender reassignment surgery, or being placed on or using any forms of using treatments, a bill many speculate will attract a lawsuit.

The state education system was another beneficiary in the wake of the hearings. Some notable education house bills were  HB16 and HB215,  which addressed school scholarships and teacher pay raises. According to a comprehensive report published by Deseret News, “The new legislation will provide not less than $8,000 in scholarships for private education options as well as provide $6,000 in teacher pay raises.”

Another major educational bill that was successfully passed and approved was the HB102 bill. This bill concerned the residency status of individuals enrolled in higher education institutions and now allows for non-American citizens and students to qualify for Utah residency and be allowed to pay in-state tuition as opposed to out-of-state specifically at public universities. However, this is under the strict condition that such individuals have either already applied, been approved for, or are in the process of acquiring an immigration status.

Another controversial debate was regarding the state’s abortion laws and policies. The legislature signed HB467, which won approval on the very last day of the hearings. The new law effectively rendered abortion clinics unconstitutional institutions in the state and requires that all existing institutions be permanently shut down on or before Jan. 1, 2024. Abortion procedures can now only be performed within the first 18 weeks of the carrier’s pregnancy, and can also now only be carried out in state-approved hospitals or clinics.

Another bill passed was H.B. 257, which targeted suicide prevention in the state’s numerous correctional facilities which had been a concern for some time now. According to a report published by the Salt Lake Tribune, suicide, not COVID-19, was the leading cause of death for inmates in Utah prisons in 2020, with a total of 19 recorded incidents. 

The bill allows for funding for Utah correctional facilities for the installation of “suicide barriers” on the upper levels of the buildings to prevent inmates from falling or deliberately jumping off.

In what some might laud as a show of Utahn Patriotism, SB31, a new bill approving a new design for a new state flag was also passed in a move that received wide acclaim. The bill ratifies the design which will feature a beehive on the new state flag, poetically fitting for a state dubbed the Beehive State. For more information on the events and results of the legislative sessions, readers can visit their website at