SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah may need to post new signage if a pair of bills sponsored by a Top of Utah legislator become law: The signs would read "no spitting allowed."
Spitting on another person, especially a law enforcement officer, will have greater consequences if bills sponsored by Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, become law. A pair of measures, sponsored by Stevenson, dealing with spitting or throwing potentially infectious material at another person passed a Senate committee on Wednesday and will advance to the Senate.
The first measure, SB 97, carries a potential felony charge if a person spits or throws or vomits saliva on an officer, if that person knows they are infected with HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. The second bill, SB 98, carries penalties for the same offenses on the general public, or any infected person, except the penalties are classified as class A or B misdemeanors.
The whole idea of regulating spitting didn't go over well with one of the committee members, Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley. He was reluctant to even vote on criminalizing the act of spitting. He was the lone committee member to vote against SB 98.
"You could get six months in jail for spitting on someone without criminal intent," Thatcher said.
He said he was uncomfortable with the concept and asked the committee to not vote on the bill.
Jacey Skinner, an official with the Utah Sentencing Commission, told committee members that spitting on someone is already a class B misdemeanor, regardless of what Stevenson's bills do.
"Apparently people are coming up with new and improved ways of going after officers. This corrects that and makes the penalties more severe," Stevenson said of his first measure.