January 29, 2024 –– H.B. 249, Utah Legal Personhood Amendments, was approved by the House Business and Labor Committee last week and awaits a third reading before the House.
The proposed Utah Legal Personhood Amendments explicitly state that a body of water cannot be granted or recognized as having legal personhood This means that under this legislation, bodies of water would not possess legal rights, obligations, or the capacity to participate in legal proceedings as a person would.
Sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks, the bill prohibits governmental entities from granting or recognizing legal personhood to several categories of entities and elements that are non-human. This includes artificial intelligence, inanimate objects, bodies of water, land, real property, atmospheric gases, astronomical objects, weather, plants, nonhuman animals, and any other non-human taxonomic domain members.
The bill proposes the enactment of Sections 63G-31-101 and 63G-31-102 in the Utah Code Annotated 1953, with an effective date of May 1, 2024.
Opponents fear that the bill’s passage could damage efforts to protect Great Salt Lake.