- 1 Updates
- 2 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 3 Elected Officials
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Obamacare / ACA
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Actions Taken by the State Government
Utah's 2017 Legislative Session ended March 19, 2017. Legislators will return to session in January, 2018.
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Utah lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- "SB196 strikes down language prohibiting "the advocacy of homosexuality" in the state's sex education guidelines.
Harmful bills proposed by Utah lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- No bills identified at this time.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
- Governor, Gary R. Herbert (R)
- Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox (R)
- Speaker of the House, Gregory Hughes (R)
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find the number to call to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline is 30 days before Election Day if you register by mail. The deadline is 7 days before Election Day if you register online or in person. Proof of identification is requested to vote. Find acceptable forms of identification here.
- Senator Orrin Hatch (R) will be up for re-election in 2018.
2018 Competitive House Election
- Utah District 4 is a competitive district with the potential to flip to blue. Representative Mia Love (R) won the 2016 election with 53.5% of the vote. Trump won the district in the 2016 presidential election with 39.1% of the vote.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 154,000 people in Utah (or 5.1% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 273,000 people (or 9.1% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/28/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) This is because with a full repeal, premiums will not increase the way they would under a partial repeal, since insurance companies will be able to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions and won't be required to provide essential health benefits. Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- The reason that so few people stand to lose coverage in Utah is because the state government, for political reasons, did not take the free money offered to it by the federal government to help expand Medicaid to more of its low-income citizens. This decision also disproportionately disadvantaged Black citizens.
- The number of uninsured people in Utah is predicted to be 341,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 520,000, a 52.4% increase.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in Utah could pay up to 15% more for the same coverage, compared to men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- Utah, like most states, lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- It is estimated that repeal will cost Utah 19,000 jobs in 2019.
- The Utah Health Policy Project has outlined some of the potential impacts of a repeal, and emphasizes that older and lower-income Utahns are at the highest risk of losing coverage or being priced out of the market.
- Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who is up for reelection in 2018, voted to repeal the ACA with no replacement.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay strategy, young adults in Utah could pay $706 more in 2018.
45 people were killed by the police in Utah from 2013 to 2016, which is the 25th most per capita in the country. Black people were killed at a rate 6.4 times higher than the rate for all people in Utah.
- In 2013, Utah had 236,954 immigrants, making up 8.2% of the population.
- There are estimated to be 100,000 undocumented immigrants in Utah, making up 3.5% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Utah offers drivers’ licenses regardless of immigration status.
- Utah allows undocumented immigrants to attend public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In Utah, 15,655 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- 7.4% of K-12 students in Utah had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in Utah made up 5.4% of the labor workforce in 2014. 
- If all undocumented workers were removed from Utah, the state would lose $2.3 billion in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $74.8 million in state and local taxes in Utah in 2012. If they all had legal status, they would pay $97.4 million.
- Utah does not have any cities or counties with sanctuary policies.
- Utah was in the top 20% for refugee resettlement in 2013–14, with more than 68 refugees per 100,000 residents.
- Utah’s Department of Workforce Services has a Refugee Services Office.
- Voters face the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The VRA was designed to prevent discrimination in voting. Overall, states are passing fewer laws to restrict voting rights. However, voter ID bills are the most common type of restriction.
- In 2014, 14,194 people were incarcerated in Utah, plus a probation population of 11,188 and parole population of 3,265.
- Of the prison population, 2,048 people were serving life sentences, and 105 were serving life sentences without parole.
- 612 juveniles were in custody in Utah in 2013.
- In Utah, a black person was 7.3 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person in 2014.
- Utah does not have private prisons.
- Corrections expenditures in 2014 were $261 million.
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- Utah residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 89,000
- Adults and children: 336,000
- Children: 205,000
- In 2015, an average of 88,160 households and 225,603 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Utah. In 2011, approximately 10% of the population of Utah was receiving SNAP benefits. The average monthly benefit per Utah household was $291 per household and $114 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 8,617 households, including 3,625 families and 6,512 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Utah was $498 in 2014. Average benefits in Utah have fallen in value by 21.5% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 13,821 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 2,741 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category who received $418.46 per person on average, for a total of $1,147,000.
- 52,900 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Utah had 33 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Utah, there were 2,807 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 298 families, 335 veterans, 132 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 190 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Utah received $124 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Utah, more than 20,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Utah households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Utah's infrastructure received a score of C+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- This study gave the state “good” scores for bridges, roads, solid waste, dams, and transit, and identified canals and levees as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 14.7% of Utah's bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 25% of Utah's roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $197 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor Gary R. Herbert (R), creating a new industrial development is a major infrastructure goal for Utah.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Utah has nine Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, seven centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health-provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 72,778 women of reproductive age.
- There were six abortion providers providers in Utah in 2015.
- In 2014, 9.8 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Utah had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
- There is a 72-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent and notice is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Mandated counseling includes misleading information.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
Women and Wages
- In Utah, 12% of women live in poverty. Single mothers make up 34.1% of women living in poverty, while women age 65 and older make up 8.9%.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.71, which is nine cents below the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.56 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.47 for every dollar made by white men.
Domestic Violence in Utah
- Numbers provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that one in three women in Utah will experience domestic violence, compared to one in four nationwide.
- A recent study by the Utah Department of Health found that approximately 32% of all homicides in the state were domestic violence–related. On average, there is a domestic violence–related murder every 33 days, and approximately three domestic violence–related suicides every month.
- In 2012, more than 3,114 men, women, and children entered shelters to escape domestic violence.
- In 2012, 39% of Utah women reporting intimate partner violence said the perpetrator was their husband or male live-in partner. 27% said the perpetrator was a former husband or former male live-in partner, and 25.7% said the abuser was a former boyfriend.
- 147 Utah children were directly exposed to an intimate partner–related homicide from 2003 to 2008, and 78% of these children were under six years old.
Religious freedom law
Utah does not have any religious freedom laws. Religious freedom laws protect people's right to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states have attempted to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Utah has laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment and housing. The state lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in adoption, jury selection, insurance, credit, public accommodations, and education.
Utah has laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in surrogacy and parental presumption, but lacks laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in foster care and second-parent adoption.
Hate crime laws
Utah does not include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group and doesn't have required reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Utah lacks certain laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth, such as transgender inclusion in sports, protection from conversion therapy, laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws, and LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies.
Health and safety laws
- Utah does not have certain laws protecting the health and safety of its LGBTQ+ citizens, including nondiscrimination protections in the ACA exchanges, a ban on insurance exclusions for trans health care, trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees, health data collection, and gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms.
- Utah does have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in ensuring their health and safety, such as sodomy laws and laws that criminalize HIV/AIDS.
- HIV criminalization laws are those that make it illegal for an HIV-positive person to “knowingly expose” another person to HIV—in some states, this means that it is illegal not to disclose HIV-positive status to a sex partner, but many laws criminalize behaviors that are unlikely to lead to transmission. Because the laws focus on disclosure, not actual transmission, they serve no real purpose. All states have other, non-HIV-specific laws that can be used to prosecute transmission of HIV, so these laws just needlessly single out and stigmatize HIV-positive people and reinforce the image of them as “dangerous.” It also allows the saliva or blood of an HIV-positive person to be classified in court as a “deadly weapon.” HIV criminalization laws also disproportionately target people of color, mainly Black people, and gay men.
- Utah is ranked last in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $6,555 per student.
- As of 2013, Utah ranked 35th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $49,393 per year.
- 93% of students in Utah attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 33% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 8.8% of total public school enrollment.
- Utah's overall graduation rate is 84%, just above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates in Utah are as follows:
- White: 87%
- Latino: 73%
- Black: 69%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 85%
- American Indian: 66%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 74%
- Limited English Proficient: 62%
- Students with Disabilities: 68%
Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- Utah has a state minimum wage of $7.25, the same as the federal minimum wage.
- Utah has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Utah has no state law for paid family leave.
- Utah has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. They are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Utah is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Utah also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Utah does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Utah does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- Approximately 90% of Utah’s electricity generation is from fossil fuels.
- Utah has 15 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 57% of Utah’s land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Black and Asian or Pacific Islander populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—of 37 and 35—compared to an overall index of 23 and White index of 21.
- In 2012, Native American and Black adults in Utah were most likely to have asthma—12.3 and 11.2%, respectively, compared to 8.6% overall.
- The environmental agency in Utah is the Department of Environmental Quality, which implements state and federal environmental laws to maintain air, land and water quality.
- Utah had a climate change report issued in 2007, but a climate change action plan is not currently available.
- In 2008, Utah established a renewable energy goal of 20% renewable energy by 2025.
- Utah has the lowest rate of disability in the US: 9.9% of Utah's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- The employment rate among disabled adults in Utah is 45.8%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in Utah have a 78.3% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Tables R1811 & B18120]
- Approximately 14.0% of eligible voters in Utah have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.7%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Utah, 18.0% live in poverty, as opposed to 10.5% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 48.4%, as opposed to 14.8% for non-disabled children. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130]
- In Utah, 3.7% of households receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Environmental Justice Groups
Disability Rights Organizations
- Disability Law Center—205 North 400 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84103. tel:800-662-9080
- Work Ability Utah—1595 West 500 South Salt Lake City, Utah 84104. tel:887-246-9675
- Utah Independent Living Center—3445 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84115. tel:801-466–5565