2024 State Legislative Session Takeaways: Utah

Written by Costa Costidis

The Utah Legislature adjourned on March 1 after convening for a 45-day legislative session. The legislature considered and passed record amounts of legislation in its relatively short session. In total, 934 bills were introduced, with 591 passing both chambers.

Here’s what you may have missed:

Social Media

Governor Spencer Cox (R) and the Utah Legislature made headlines in 2023 with their first-in-the-nation social media legislation. HB 311 and SB 152 from 2023, among other requirements, direct social media companies to verify the age of a Utah adult seeking to open a social media account and receive consent from parents or guardians for the creation of an account by a person under 18 years of age. Between the passage of these bills and the beginning of the 2024 legislative session, two federal lawsuits were filed, yet legislators maintained support for regulations on social media companies.

In 2024, the legislature adopted amendments to these regulations. The first bill Governor Cox signed in 2024 was SB 89, which delays the effective date for these requirements to October 1, 2024. Additionally, two amendatory bills, SB 194 and HB 464, were introduced, passed both chambers and were approved by Governor Cox on March 13. According to the governor, the purpose of these two bills is to maintain regulations on social media companies while also withstanding the scrutiny that has come from these lawsuits. SB 194 requires social media companies to implement an age assurance system and set default privacy settings for accounts held by minors, among other requirements. It also imposes safe harbor provisions for companies that meet requirements. HB 464 establishes a private right of action while also outlining an affirmative defense for social media companies. These bills authorize the Division of Consumer Protection to administer and enforce these provisions, and to promulgate rules to establish a process by which a social media company may ensure whether an account holder is a minor and obtain verifiable parental consent.

Artificial Intelligence

Governor Cox signed SB 149 on March 13. This bill establishes liability for using artificial intelligence that violates consumer protection laws if not properly disclosed. It requires anyone who uses or causes generative artificial intelligence to interact with another person during specified acts to disclose that information. The bill also creates the Office of Artificial Intelligence Policy and the Artificial Intelligence Learning Laboratory Program to evaluate the state's potential use of artificial intelligence. The objective of the measure, according to sponsor Senator Kirk Cullimore (R), was to regulate the use of artificial intelligence while allowing for innovation and development of the technology.

The Budget

The Utah Legislature approved a record $29.4 billion operating and capital budget for fiscal year 2025. Education was a main focal point of the budget. The state increased the Weighted Pupil Unit, the funding per pupil, from $4,280 to $4,443 for a total $211.7 million increase in the budget. It also built on the 2023 bill creating a school voucher program by allocating an additional $40 million to the program, bringing the total funding to over $80 million. An additional $57 million was allocated for at-risk students and digital teaching tools. The legislature also appropriated $100 million towards school security, including armed security in schools and teacher defense training.

All eyes will be on Governor Cox until March 21, the final day he may sign or veto any legislation sent to him by the legislature. Interim committee meetings typically begin in May and June and occur approximately once a month per committee throughout the remainder of the year. While early meetings discuss potential issues under the jurisdiction of committees, later meetings will incorporate possible bill language to be introduced in the next legislative session. To stay up to date on all interim discussions or any developments in the ongoing social media debate, please contact Alex Aceto.