GOVERNMENT

State senator asking for public input ahead of Friday special session

Mar 24, 2022, 3:58 PM | Updated: 4:27 pm
marriage Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen firearm codify...
Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen says party switching is partly blame for loss in last month's Democratic primary election. Photo credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City asked the public for input on H.B. 11 before his fellow Utah lawmakers meet on Friday during a special session of the legislature.

This special session is happening to consider an override of Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of H.B. 11, a bill that effectively bans transgender girls from playing in girls’ sports. 

“The voice of the people must be heard and championed at every step in the legislative process,” Kitchen said in a statement. “Seeing as community organizations and the public were uninvolved and removed from the legislative process to call for reconsideration on H.B. 11, I am urgently pleading for public feedback ahead of tomorrow’s sessions. Rushed action by the Legislature — once again — is a disservice to the great people of this state.”

Those who wish to offer input directly to Kitchen can do so here.

Special session precursor

Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed H.B. 11 on March 22, and the veto override session was scheduled immediately after. In a five-page letter addressed to House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams, Cox called H.B. 11 fundamentally flawed, said that the bill did not take into consideration the potential of lawsuits and that the bill may be harmful to students who already suffer from a disproportionate rate of suicide.

“Because the bill was substantially changed in the final hours of the legislative session with no public input and in a way that will likely bankrupt the Utah High School [Activities] Association and result in millions of dollars in legal fees for local school districts with no state protection, and for several other reasons below, I have chosen to veto this bill,” wrote Cox. 

Attempt to find a compromise

Speaking on KSL NewsRadio on Thursday, Wilson said that lawmakers had attempted to find a compromise throughout the legislative session and indeed that they’d been speaking about the topic of transgendered athletes competing in Utah schools for a couple of years.

He said that by the time they reached the end of the 2022 legislative session, in order to move forward, they had to pass something.

“To get something in place, it looked like the only way we were going to get consensus across the legislature, in general, was to pass the bill that we passed,” Wilson said.

“Basically, it says that transgender athletes that were born as boys and have now transitioned to be females cannot participate in girls’ sports unless the courts come in and say ‘that isn’t going to work.'”

As the bill stands now, a commission would then determine if the athletes could participate in girls’ sports, based on safety, competitiveness, and other factors.

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