SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A man who was taken into custody during a tense Utah Senate committee hearing Tuesday was cited with disrupting a public meeting, the Utah Highway Patrol confirmed.
That charge is a Class B misdemeanor. UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden told KUTV 2News the case is being handled by the Salt Lake City Justice Court.
Meanwhile, the Utah Senate president called the matter an “unfortunate incident” and said Senate processes would be reviewed.
The man, whose name has not been released, was handcuffed and removed from the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee meeting as it was beginning Tuesday afternoon. UHP Capt. Greg Holley told KUTV 2News that Senate security asked troopers to remove him because he had a sticker that violated the committee's rules prohibiting any displays or signage, and he was not complying with their requests.
The sticker read "Vote yes on HB60,” a reference to House Bill 60 that prohibits businesses and government entities from discrimination based on vaccination status with some exceptions.
After a few moments of asking the man to leave the meeting, troopers handcuffed the man and took him out of the room. He was later cited and released. Two other people were kicked out of the committee room right afterwards for yelling at the committee chair, Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton).
“That was an unfortunate incident,” said Senate President Stuart Adams (R-Layton) on Wednesday afternoon, noting that the Senate values public input. “We’re kind of sorry that happened, and my hope would be that we would move on and that we wouldn’t want to see anything like that result in criminal charges.”
Adams told reporters the Senate is reviewing its processes in the aftermath of the incident.
“We obviously have great policies in place, and we hope to perfect those as we continue on,” Adams said. “We’re looking at the incidents and we’ll just continue to, again, try to learn from what we’re doing.”
Sen. Don Ipson (R-St. George) praised Utah Highway Patrol for their handling of the situation.
“They diffused that situation quickly,” Ipson said. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Sen. Luz Escamilla (D-Salt Lake City), acting minority leader, pointed out that incidents like that don’t happen often. Four people have been booted from committee hearings this session, according to UHP, and all of them have been associated with House Bill 60.
“Out of all the things that we discuss here – all the meetings that we have – those are very rare situations,” Escamilla said.
Sen. Evan Vickers (R-Cedar City) said there needs to be respectful dialogue, including from the public. Sen. Jerry Stevenson (R-Layton) said policies are in place because of past disruptions in meetings, such as when lawmakers moved the state prison and created the Inland Port.
“I think we’ll work through this,” Stevenson said of Tuesday’s committee hearing. “We have incidents at times, and this isn’t the first time, and we seem to be able to work our way through them and keep things where they should be.”
The man who was arrested declined to speak with KUTV 2News after he was released Tuesday.
As for House Bill 60, it was substituted by the committee and eventually passed, 7 to 2. It awaits a vote by the full Senate.