Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Drivers move along the Stansbury Tooele exit on I-80 Monday evening. The state legislature approved a bill that will create a speed limit test section of 80 miles per hour on I-80.

March 19, 2013
Gun laws, I-80 speed limit changes now wait for governor’s signature

The 2013 Utah Legislature season is over, and Tooele County residents may notice changes in gun laws and how fast they’re allowed to drive on I-80.

Gov. Gary Herbert still has to sign the bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

HB 83, Speed Limit Amendments, was passed 69-5-1 in the House on Feb. 6 and 29-0-0 in the Senate on Feb. 22. The bill will allow portions of I-80 in Tooele County to have speed limits faster than 75 miles per hour, as well as some portions of I-15 from Tremonton to the Utah-Idaho border.

Those stretches of road will be surveyed to determine the best portions for the increased speed limit, which would likely only apply to long, clear, straight sections, not ones with any significant visual obstruction or curvature.

Portions of I-15 in central and southern Utah have had speed limits of 80 mph since 2008. The resulting favorable safety study of those portions brought about the proposal for more faster sections.

HB 317, called the Protection of Concealed Firearm Permit, passed 62-9-4 in the House on March 8, and 28-1-0 in the Senate on March 13. It prohibits state and political entities of the state from compelling or attempting to compel a person with a concealed carry permit to tell whether that person has a concealed carry permit or is carrying a concealed permit.

In other words, if an employee of a governmental entity with information about concealed carry permit holders divulges that information, they would face a class A misdemeanor.

The exceptions to the law include if the information is necessary to perform a criminal background check, if the information is part of a court order associated with an active case, and if the information is told to a law enforcement agency during the course of a criminal investigation or prosecution.

HB 121, Firearms Safe Harbor, is also awaiting a signature by the governor. The bill authorizes a cohabitant to voluntarily hand over a firearm to law enforcement for 60 days if the person believes another person they live with is an immediate threat.

Illegal firearms voluntarily turned in would still be required to be confiscated, and law enforcement would be allowed to dispose of the firearm if the owner does not claim it after the time period lapses. If another person who turns out to be the owner of the firearm claims the weapon, law enforcement would also be allowed to return it to them.

SB 80, which establishes a procedure for clearing restrictions from people who are restricted from owning a concealed weapon because of a disability, passed slightly less decisively among legislators, with a 23-3-3 vote by the Senate on March 5 and a 63-0-12 vote in the House on Thursday.

The procedure involves examining the reasons for a person’s restriction — mental health issues, the circumstances surrounding those issues, the amount of risk a person is to those around them — and whether removing that restriction would be contrary to public safety.

Most controversial, though, is HB 76, which passed 51-18-6 in the House on March 1 and 22-7-0 in the Senate on March 13. The Concealed Carry Amendments would allow a person 21 and over who is legally allowed to own a firearm, to be able to carry it concealed or openly without a permit.

Some exceptions still apply, including carrying firearms on or about elementary or secondary school premises in some cases. Several groups have protested the bill, including Utah Parents Against Gun Violence, the League of Women Voters and the Alliance for a Better Utah.

April 3 is the deadline for the governor to sign the bills, veto them, or let them become law without his signature.

Although Herbert can veto bills passed by lawmakers, 50 or more votes in the House and 20 or more votes in the Senate are sufficient to override a gubernatorial veto.

Lisa Christensen

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Lisa covers primarily crime and courts, military affairs, Stansbury Park government and transportation issues. She is a graduate of Utah State University, where she double-majored in journalism and music, and Grantsville High School.

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