Home Community Press Release: The Utah Legislature Tries Another Unconstitutional Bill

Press Release: The Utah Legislature Tries Another Unconstitutional Bill

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Salt Lake City, UT – H.B. 166, the Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Act was filed for consideration in the 2019 Legislative session after it was not passed into law last year. The bill is sponsored by Representative Karianne Lisonbee.

Lauren Simpson, policy director at Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the following statement:

“Unfortunately, last year the Legislature decided to get rid of constitutional notes on bills. In other words, they specifically took away the notes which would inform voters about unconstitutional bills. Now Utahns must work harder to follow the work of their elected legislators, but we have no qualms in saying that this bill, H.B. 166, is likely unconstitutional.

“Last year the Legislature was warned that this same bill would likely be found unconstitutional if it was passed when it was inevitably challenged in court. This bill flies in the face of our Constitution and frankly, it is ridiculous to see this come back again. Our Legislature should spend their time working to enact laws that would actually help families and reduce abortions, rather than wasting everyone’s time and money on message bills.”

In 2007, the Utah Attorney General’s Office warned the Legislature that a bill banning most abortions would cost approximately $1.3 million to defend in court, although other estimates placed the costs higher at somewhere between $2 million to $8 million. Last year, Alliance for a Better Utah sent Utah Attorney General’s Office a letter requesting an estimate of the legal costs that would be necessary to defend Lisonbee’s “Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act” in court. The legislature’s own counsel determined the bill, H.B. 205, “has a high-probability of being declared unconstitutional by a court.” Better Utah never received a response from the Office of the Attorney General.

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