SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Starting Tuesday, restaurants across Utah can begin taking down state-mandated signs saying they aren’t bars. Parents can be protected if they let their children roam freely. And farmers can begin to eye the prospect of legally growing marijuana for a narrow range of purposes.
Most of the more than 500 laws passed by the state’s Legislature this year go into effect 60 days after the end of the short legislative session.
The laws are wide-ranging. Some add new protections for runaway teens and people with dangerous partners. Another transforms the state’s transit agency.
Here are some of the most notable new laws that go into effect Tuesday:
For the first time in the country, Utah lawmakers this year passed a measure explicitly saying that parents aren’t breaking the law if their kids travel alone to school, the playground or do other activities by themselves, as long as they’re mature enough to handle it. The law doesn’t specify how old children should be to be alone.
The measure has inspired supporters in New York and Texas to follow suit.
Utah restaurant owners will be able to take down state-mandated signs near their doors reading: “This premise is licensed as a restaurant, not a bar.” The signs were part of a massive liquor-reform bill last year but didn’t seem to be making a difference, lawmakers said.
Bars will still have to post signs identifying their status and saying people under 21 are not allowed in.
Terminally ill people within six months of dying may soon be able to buy a very narrow range of marijuana products from a yet-to-be-created state-run dispensary. Farmers will also be able to grow marijuana for research purposes.
An initiative with much broader rules for consuming marijuana is expected to be on the ballot before voters in November.
Teenagers who leave polygamous communities will have more legal protection from parents who could expose them to sexual abuse or forced marriage. The new law changes the system of notifying families about runaways to state that authorities — and not the home where the child is staying — are required to notify the child’s parents.
People in dating relationships will be able to obtain protective orders against dangerous partners, fixing what lawmakers have described as a gap in current law. Previously, people in a relationship could not get a protective order if they were not married or didn’t live together.
The bill was introduced after the murder of a woman and her 6-year-old son by a former boyfriend last year.
The Utah Transit Authority will gradually transform into the Transit District of Utah and in coming months a new management team will step in to take over the transit agency. The massive agency overhaul comes after lawmakers demanded a fresh start for what they describe as a scandal-plagued agency.
Officials have warned the name change could cost as much as $50 million.
Utah residents who will be 18 by the general election can vote in the party primary elections, even if they are only 17 at the time. Lawmakers hoped that the measure would increase teenagers’ participation in politics.