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Utah lawmakers looking to spend over $1 million to protect Capitol, officials

Graffiti left behind at Utah's state capitol after demonstrations in May 2020. (PHOTO: KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — State lawmakers have agreed to spend more than $1 million on enhanced security measures at the Utah State Capitol. 

Protecting the Utah Capitol

Supporters of the measure say they wish SB222 wasn’t necessary, but various events in Salt Lake and Washington D.C. have, in their opinion, shown that heightened security focus is needed.

“It’s becoming more important for us to focus on the issue of security around our Capitol, around our elected officials and even around our staff,” explained floor sponsor Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy.

The bill would specifically expand the security responsibilities of the Utah Department of Public Safety. It gives Utah DPS the power to “assess, monitor and address any threat to a public official, a public official’s staff member or any part of the Capitol Hill complex.”

It also could include protection for a governor-elect and their immediate family, if needed.

“Once in a while we do things that make people mad and sometimes we make people mad enough that they make threats toward us,” Spendlove said.

According to the bill’s text, there needs to be a “demonstrable need or a specifically identified threat” to a person or the Capitol complex for extra security measures, training or people to be put into action. 

On to Governor Cox

Not everyone is on board though, with some lawmakers criticizing the bill’s purpose.

“I think there’s a balance here between safety, which is always paramount, but also providing levels of protection that we don’t equally distribute among our high-ranking elected officials,” said Rep. Casey Snider, R-Paradise.

Despite some backlash, the measure still passed the House on a 48-20 vote. The bill now goes to Gov. Spencer Cox for his signature or veto.