POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Extending state flooding emergency, firearm restrictions, among topics for Utah special session

May 15, 2023, 3:00 PM

Utahns responded to a survey that will help state and local decision-making guide Utah's developmen...

The Utah State Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. This year, there are eight seats open on the Utah State Board of Education, and 20 candidates are hoping to fill them. (AP photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers will extend a flood risk state of emergency called by Gov. Cox and vote on a change to firearm restrictions during a special session of the legislature this week.

Last week, the Office of Legislative Research and General Council released an analysis of the special session’s expected topics.

H.J.R. 101 Joint Resolution Extending Emergency Powers for Flood Mitigation and Infrastructure Rehabilitation

According to the OLRGC, this resolution will extend the state of emergency that was established in an executive order on April 18. By Utah law, a state of emergency declared by the governor is only good for 30 days. The existing emergency declaration expires on May 18, 2023.

The OLRGC says that when the emergency order ends, so does funding for emergency flooding. HRJ 101 acknowledges that flood risks are ongoing and will be for several more months.

H.B. 1001, Emergency Response Funding

HB 1001 will be addressed during the special session and makes clear which state agencies will have access to emergency response funding, granted by HJR 101. It spells out how much money is being reallocated for flooding mitigation, and where the money is coming from. Namely:

  • $20 million will be moved from UDOT’s Highway System Construction Project to UDOT Operations/Maintenance
  • $5 million will be moved from the Wildland Fire Suppression Fund to the Division of Emergency and Disaster Management, additionally
  • $5 million will be reallocated from the Wildland Fire Suppression Fund and will go to the Division of Finance in anticipation of flood costs, and
  • $3 million for state costs related to the emergency, moved from the State Disaster Recovery Restricted Account to the Department of Public Safety in 2024.

H.B. 1002, Restricted Persons Amendments

Passed by lawmakers in February 2023, Utah law, H.B. 225, Firearm Possession Amendments,  amended a law that regulates firearm possession by restricted individuals (in this case, an alien admitted to the U.s. under a nonimmigrant visa.) However, the OLRGC said the state law is more stringent than a federal law 

H.B. 1002 will remove an alien with a nonimmigrant visa from the definition of a Category II restricted person.

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Extending state flooding emergency, firearm restrictions, among topics for Utah special session