UT – Legislators took a hard stance on crimes against children in the 2007 legislative session. Among the several bills supported by the Sutherland Institute and passed by the Legislature, two of them, HB 228 and 3SHB 86, comprise Utah’s version of “Jessica’s Law.” HB 228 amends the Utah Criminal Code to provide that the murder of a child younger than 14 years of age is now a capital felony. Third Substitute HB 86 amends provisions of the Criminal Code relating to penalties for sexual offenses and child kidnapping.
“The strengthening of the family unit and ensuring the well-being of our children are key legislative priorities for the Sutherland Institute,” said Stan Rasmussen, Sutherland manager of public affairs. “Four Sutherland-supported bills that passed this year do just that. We are especially pleased with the success of Representative Carl Wimmer’s HB 228 and 3SHB 86, which establish policy that avoids objections to minimum mandatory sentencing and still creates the high standard Utahns expect and want reflected in their laws regarding heinous crimes against children.”
Sutherland’s policy committee was instrumental in developing what is now called the “standard minimum” that sets a high bar in sentencing but allows judges the necessary discretion to factor in mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
Other Sutherland-supported bills that passed:
- HB 343 with all empirical evidence showing that children are better off in every category of human progress in two-parent homes, HB 343 establishes a foster and adoption placement preference in the home of two legally-married parents.
- SB 56 prohibits school districts and charter schools from establishing or maintaining procedures that favor one teacher association over another.
These bills now await Governor Jon Huntsman’s signature. The governor has until March 20 to sign or simply allow these bills to go into law without his signature.
“We express our thanks for the diligent efforts of the many legislators, informed and engaged citizens, and colleagues for their hard work in seeking to create policy that will make Utah a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Rasmussen.