Stricter polygamy and new LGBT sex education measures among new Utah laws

Polygamy advocate Brady Williams looks on with his wives Robyn, second from the left, and Nonie, right, at the Utah state capitol. At far left is Hannah, his daughter with Robyn in 2016. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new Utah law that ramps up punishments for some polygamists and one that adds requirements for abortion providers are just two of the more than 400 new state laws that take effect Tuesday.

The trigger for about three-fourths of the new laws is May 9 because it's a default date under state law that marks 60 days from the end of Utah's short legislative session.

Here are some of the most notable new laws that become operative Tuesday:


Doctors will now be required to inform women that medication-induced abortions can be halted after taking just one of two pills, despite doctors' groups saying there is little evidence to back up that idea. Proponents of the measure have said doctors can give a woman the hormone progesterone to stop an abortion after she has taken the first of two medications needed to complete the abortion.



Despite objections from plural families, polygamists may face harsher punishments if they are convicted of other crimes such as domestic abuse or fraud. The law increases the maximum penalty to 15 years, up from five, for polygamists who are also convicted of fraud, sex abuse, domestic abuse, human trafficking or human smuggling. But it also includes safe harbors for people leaving a polygamous marriage, reporting abuse or protecting a child.



This measure strips language banning the "advocacy of homosexuality" from the state's sex education law. It was driven by a court challenge from LGBT-rights groups, who argued that the law creates a "chilling culture of silence that stigmatizes LGBTQ students" and exists only to express disapproval of being gay. The new law replaces Utah's ban on the "advocacy of homosexuality" in schools with a ban on the "advocacy of premarital or extramarital sexual activity," which already is generally outlawed.



Utah residents may now be able to pass down their social media and email accounts to relatives as easily as they do their belongings after they die. The law allows a person to give their heir or trustee power to oversee their digital accounts if they die or are incapacitated. Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Lowry Snow has said digital property has become very valuable, so it should be protected just like physical property.



Job applicants who've been convicted of a crime no longer have to disclose their criminal record before some job interviews. The legislation only applies to government jobs, and is meant to help convicts find work after prison. The new law says government employers can't exclude someone from getting a job interview if the applicant has been convicted of a crime, and they can't ask about a criminal record before the interview.



This new law gradually winds down the $2,000 tax credit that homeowners can receive when they install rooftop solar panels. The credits apply to income taxes, which are the main source of funding for education in Utah. The measure limits the credit to $1,600 for next year and scales it back every year until its $400 in 2021. Any systems installed after that will not be eligible for the tax credit.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly - 5/9/2017 @ 7:22 p.m. CDT