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Adoption, porn bills pass during Utah legislative session
by TOM BUSSELBERG
Mar 19, 2014 | 1208 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Utah State Capitol - Clipper file photo
Utah State Capitol - Clipper file photo
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BOUNTIFUL - Bills passed the 2014 Legislature making it harder for out-of-state moms to bring babies here for adoption and putting more teeth into protection for children from pornography.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, was key sponsor on those two bills, which were co-sponsored in the House by Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.

“Utah has been alleged as having become a magnet state for fraudulent adoption,” Weiler said. “Mothers come here, place their babies for adoption, and use loopholes to deprive (birth) dads of any notification.”

He wanted to close those loopholes, or at least throw a “speed bump” into the process.

Now, it targets mothers who have lived in the state for less than three months, requiring them to file with the court under seal, or with confidentiality.

Information placed under seal would include required data about the birth father, Weiler, an attorney, said.

“Based on those findings, the judge can determine if notice needs to be given to any or all (potential birth fathers),” he said. “It’s strategically designed to try to curb some of the so-called abuse that is going on with those out-of-state adoptions.”

The pornography-related bill deals with children being exposed to porn and its “harmful effects.”

The bill allows a court to consider situations such as a parent divorcing and fighting for primary custody, or going through termination of parental rights, Weiler said.

“It’s in a setting where parental skills are being judged,” he said. “It adds a factor that a court may consider in those circumstances, whether that parent has intentionally exposed that child to pornography.”

It goes beyond accidentally leaving a DVD in a player, Weiler emphasized. It’s more designed for such situations as when a father would intentionally expose a child to pornography.

“We already have a statute that defines what is harmful material for minors,” he emphasized.

Wilson spent the majority of his time during the just-completed session dealing with the budget. He was vice-chair of the House executive appropriations committee.

“I would in general it was a good year for the budget,” he said. “We had nearly $500 million of new money. The economy is growing.”

Almost all those funds were invested in public education. “Hopefully we have funded enough for growth in public ed as well as a little for school districts to pay teachers more, reduce class sizes, pay for (staff) benefits,” Wilson said.

A new science building at Weber State University in Ogden was among projects approved that will benefit Northern Utah.

Some $15 million was set aside in the Tourism Marketing Performance Account, meant to promote tourism in the state. Matched dollar for dollar by local government, it totals $30 million.

“It tourism was considered an industry, as an export, it would be the second biggest industry,” Wilson said. “It generates almost $900 per person in tax relief. Tourists come, spend, and leave. We don’t have to educate their kids.”

Wilson and Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, are also members of the prison relocation committee.

Legislation was approved on how to proceed, including formation of a legislative commission. It will decide where, when and how to move the facility from Draper. 

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