Lawmakers React To Abstinence-Only Bill Veto

(KCPW News) Sex education, including discussion of contraception, will continue in Utah schools. Friday night, Governor Gary Herbert vetoed House Bill 363, which would have required schools teach abstinence-only or nothing at all. Senate President Michael Waddoups believes it was a good piece of legislation, and a special session to overturn the veto could be in the cards.

“I have talked to my leadership team a little bit, but that’s all,” he tells KCPW. “They will wait and see how many things are out there and they’ll feel out the caucus and find out how much interest there is amongst the members of the caucus. It would take probably a two-thirds vote in both bodies for it to come back and have a desire to do that, but it could.”

A veto override would be difficult, however, because more than a third of both the House and Senate opposed the bill when it first passed.

Every Democrat in the Utah Legislature voted against the bill, and thousands called for the Governor to veto HB 363 through an online petition, phone calls and a rally last week at the State Capitol. Democratic Representative Joel Briscoe of Salt Lake City says the veto came as a surprise.

“You take a look at the kind of legislation that is required the public has to rise up against, vouchers in 2007 requires a citizens initiative and a statewide election to overturn a law passed by the legislature. Last year House Bill 477 denying the right of the public to have the access to government records takes $30,000 and a special session of the legislature,” says Briscoe.

Current sex education law requires parents to opt in for their students to participate if contraception is being discussed. In vetoing HB 363, Governor Herbert said the bill would deny parents that choice.