House Lawmakers Vote Down 911 Bill

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2018

Contact:       

Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

House Lawmakers Vote Down 911 Bill

Salt Lake City – Today the Utah House voted 20 to 51 against passing 1st Sub. H. B. 125 – “Duty to Assist in an Emergency” that would require people to call 911 in the event of a crime or another emergency.  It would only compel people who are able to call 911 or provide assistance to act. Failure to call 911 could result in a class B misdemeanor.

Rep. Merrill Nelson said, "I think our laws presume we are a good, moral people. Our criminal law should not reach so far as to impose criminal penalties for not being a good person. We do it inherently. Our laws should not stretch to not being a good person when not calling when needed.”  

Rep. Lowry Snow said, "My concern is this opens up the discussion now to also imposition of civil liability.  My preference would be this is given more discussion and more vetting. This would be the first time we now impose upon our citizenry an obligation with criminal prosecution if they fail to act. It’s a significant shift in jurisprudence in our state.”  

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Brian King responded, “This bill is extraordinarily topical. Everyday we’re hearing that after years and even decades, people are being revealed as abusers. We need to ferret these individuals out sooner, not later.  The sexual abuse case of Larry Nassar in Michigan showed that someone had to have known for decades this was going on, and that they could have stepped up earlier to stop it, but they didn’t.”

Rep. King added, “Is this a radical departure from traditional laws? It is true our law doesn’t currently obligate us to do this. But for 30 years we’ve required people to report if they witness children or the elderly being abused. When someone is in an accident or a victim of a crime, they are no less vulnerable than a child or elder being abused. This is a modest extension of the law.”

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