Executive Director Message – March 2024

March 25, 2024

Hello everyone! 

Spring has finally arrived, and we can now enjoy longer days and warmer weather. 

We have successfully made it through the dark and dreary winter months and a very intense legislative session. I want to extend my gratitude to our leadership and team members who worked alongside me and our legislators on numerous bills. I would like to take a moment to briefly recap some of these bills, including some crucial legislation for Utah and the nation, and provide some context on what these bills mean for the work we do here at Commerce.

Behavioral Health Licensing Amendments SB 26

First, we worked with Senator Bramble and Representative Maloy, as well as the Interim Business and Labor Committee and countless stakeholders, on the Behavioral Health Licensing bill, SB26, to remove barriers to licensure and grow Utah’s Behavioral Health workforce, increase access for Utahns needing help, as well as improve safety in a few targeted areas. If you recall, this is the first licensing deep dive that OPLR has done. Thank you to their team, as well as DOPL, for their work on this landmark bill.

Charitable Solicitations Act Amendments HB 43

Charity regulation underwent a major change this session. Charities soliciting donations in Utah will not be required to register with the Division of Consumer Protection as of May 1st. Starting January 1st, certain charitable organizations will begin to submit their Form 990 along with their business entity filings to the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code. Consumer Protection will continue to handle registrations for professional fundraisers as well as investigations of charities that engage in deceptive practices. Thank you to the Consumer Protection and Corporations for the collaborative work on this bill. 

International Licensing Amendments HB 58

This bill builds on previous legislation, to expand the ability for individuals with alternative or international credentials to become licensed in Utah. This applies universally to all DOPL professions, including those not included in last year’s legislation, such as dentists and physicians. The implementation date is May 1, 2024. Thank you to Deputy Director Carolyn, DOPL Director Mark Steinagel, and the Internationally Trained Applicant team for their continued efforts to streamline their process

Artificial Intelligence Amendments SB 149

SB 149 aims to regulate the use of generative artificial intelligence in the state and seeks to enable a light-touch regulatory environment that will have a meaningful impact on AI development and growth in Utah. Under this bill, generative AI cannot be used as a defense for violating any statutes, and companies must disclose when they are using AI in text messaging, chatbots, or voice calls. The bill also establishes a regulatory lab to oversee the development and use of generative AI. Thank you to policy advisor Greg Whisenant for his work on this bill, including his efforts engaging stakeholders during the bill development process. This new office AI learning at Commerce will ensure that the deployment of AI technologies in Utah is safe and ethical, promoting innovation and economic growth.

Social Media Regulation Act Amendments, HB 464, SB 194, and SB 89

Utah has replaced its Social Media Regulation Act with the Minor Protection in Social Media Act, which aims to ensure online safety for minors. The new law, effective from October 1st, includes strict age assurance processes, disabling certain addictive features, robust default privacy settings, prohibiting social media companies from sharing or selling minors’ data without parental consent, and providing parental supervision tools. The law was introduced to tackle harms to minors caused by social media and is a significant step towards creating a safer online environment for our kids. Thank you to Consumer Protection for leading the nation this past year on social media use for minors.

Data Privacy Amendments HB 491 

Finally, although we were not intimately involved in this bill’s development process, HB491 is one you should all know about as it is a significant move towards ensuring the privacy and protection of citizens’ data that Commerce, along with every other state agency, collects.  This is of utmost importance in today’s world, where data breaches and cyber threats are becoming more common. It is a much-needed step towards building trust between the state government and the Utahns we serve.  In particular, it requires that agencies only collect necessary personal data. We will be communicating more details on this bill in the coming months, before it officially goes into effect, about how it will affect the work that we do—so stay tuned. 
In conclusion, we can be proud of the progress made during the recent legislative session in Utah. These bills represent significant steps forward in promoting a safer, more ethical, and innovative environment for our citizens. We extend our sincere gratitude to all those involved in developing and passing these bills, including our leadership and team members, legislators, and countless stakeholders. We are optimistic about the positive impact these bills will have on our work here at Commerce and on the lives of Utahns.