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Utah Legislature focusing on police reform and ranked-choice voting at midpoint of session

Utah State Capitol on the last day of the 2019 Legislature. (Colby Walker | KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Police reform, primary voting and even how state government offices are run are all expected to be up for discussion as the legislative session in Utah this year reaches the midway point.

While there aren’t any bills proposing massive changes, some legislation would provide significant policy shifts. For instance,  Senate Bill 13 ensures law enforcement officers can’t escape internal investigations by moving to another police agency.

House Bill 62 would provide for a dishonest peace officer’s certification to be suspended or revoked. 

Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Midvale, the bill’s sponsor, said it would allow Peace Officers Standards and Training to decertify an officer if they have been proven to racially profile people or if they engaged in fraud.

Also, Utah voters could see major changes to how election primaries are conducted if House Bill 127 becomes law. The legislation would require ranked-choice voting to be used in certain regular primary elections for state or county office.

“If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in a round, then we eliminate the bottom candidate and redistribute their votes, their second choice votes to the other candidates,” said Justin Lee, who is state director of elections at the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

If Gov. Spencer Cox signs HB127, ” . . . that would mean our office would now have to count votes for statewide or multicounty elections, which is a huge change something that we’ve never done before,” said Lee.

Utah Republican Party Chairman Derrick Brown said other bills could have a big impact on how state offices function.

Brown said House Bill 365 would merge the Department of Health into the Department of Human Services and other bills would rename the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.