July Interim Recap: Issues Highlighted on the Hill

SL Chamber LogoAfter each General Session, the Legislature meets and discusses relevant items of significance.

The Salt Lake Chamber’s public policy team actively tracks this process and helps navigate study items on behalf of members and the broader business community. The Interim sessions help provide a preview of issues that may be addressed in a future General Legislative session.

Every month the Salt Lake Chamber policy team will give an update on relevant business issues that the Legislature’s bicameral study committees discuss.

A brief summary from our policy team of broad topics the Chamber is engaged on:

Abby Albrecht, Director of Government Relations – “The Chamber has been working a proactive effort to enhance our relationships in both legislative houses. Our President and CEO, Lane Beattie, joined President Niederhauser and Speaker Hughes to present them with their 2016 Business Champion Award. These relationships matter and we’d encourage business leaders to reach out and thank both the President and Speaker for their efforts to partner with the Chamber. Click HERE to take action.

We also had a unique situation with the Special Session. While the Chamber had no priority bills during the interim, there were several bills we monitored for final passage.”

Justin Jones, Director of Public Policy and Executive Director of Prosperity 2020 – “The greatest constraint on our current economic growth is our workforce and talent. During the interim, we’ve been work on two key issues: the upcoming constitution amendment and possible budget/tax reforms that would enhance the state’s overall financial commitment to education. We continue to need business leaders to actively engage in moving our education system to be globally competitive and support the workforce we need both today and in the future.”

Michael Parker, Director of Public Policy – “Our recent accolades from CNBC once again demonstrate that our state has the right mix of policy ingredients for business success. However, the Chamber is not resting on our laurels. In addition to our efforts around improving and investing in Utah’s education system and infrastructure, this past month we launched a toolkit for citiesin partnership with Governor Gary R. Herbert and the Utah League of Cities and Towns to review and enhance local regulations. Additionally, we presented to the Legislature’s administrative rules committee some key reforms the state can make to continue to be among the best regulatory climates in the nation.”

While there are dozens of items looked at each month, below are a few highlighted topics:

Utah’s Economy is Still Driving Healthy Tax Returns

As lawmakers look to close out FY2016, financial and economic analysts have forecasted that state should be near or above previous forecasts after concerns of possible deficits. The team at UtahPolicy.Com has a great write up. Key highlights for business leaders:

  • Sales and use taxes exceed projections to grow by 3.5 percent with 4.2 percent of growth
  • Personal income taxes grew by 6.6 percent year-over-year
  • Corporate income tax declined by 9.1 percent year-over-year
  • Severance taxes declined by 68.5 percent year-over-year
  • Alcohol taxes increased by 1.5 percent year-over-year
  • Motor-fuel taxes increased by 14.6 perecent year-over-year

A quick reaction from the Chamber’s Chief Economist, Natalie Gochnour on the numbers:

“Utah’s economy continues to grow despite recent concerns of a broader slowdown nationally. Strong sales and use taxes, as well as personal income are encouraging signs. The impact of low energy prices has a mixed, but very real impact on state revenue collections. Most encouraging of all to me is the uptick in Utah wages, which impacts revenue collections and helps Utah families.”

Utah Tax Review Commission is Working to Improve Utah’s Tax Code for Business

In a recent blog, we detailed the efforts of the Utah Tax Review Commission (TRC) to review business taxes at both the state and local level and make recommendations for improvements. Chief among them reviewing the possibility of expanding Utah’s single-sales factor apportionment of corporate franchise tax to a broader number of industries. Additionally, the TRC is reviewing the punitive sales tax on manufacturing inputs that do not last more than three-years.

The Salt Lake Chamber will continue to be an active participant in this process to support tax policies that strengthen Utah’s economy and properly balance tax simplicity, efficiency, fairness, revenue sufficiency and transparency. The Chamber’s policy team is planning to testify on both proposals at the August 25 meeting.

If you are interested in this topic please contact Michael Parker.

Point of the Mountain Commission Releases RFP

This month the second Point of the Mountain Development Commission convened to finalize a Request for Proposals for private sector support of the Commission’s work. The commission is assigned to provide the legislature with findings and recommendations regarding the property’s development, as well as to suggest funding strategies to address that development.

As Governor Gary Herbert said in the RFP:

“The Point of the Mountain development is a rare opportunity to merge and enhance two thriving regional economies. It requires much forethought and planning with a collaborative effort among government, business and community leaders. Finding solutions to complex questions, we will rise to the challenge, representing the best interests of Utah residents.”

The Commission is seeking assistance in addressing “complex questions of transportation, infrastructure, demographics, business growth, recreation, environment and financing are at the heart of this effort. Most importantly, the commission aims to improve these communities and further benefit the entire state of Utah.”

The Point of the Mountain Development Commission anticipates dividing its work roughly into three phases.

  1. Identifying the geographic area that will be the focus of the commission. It also involves engaging various stakeholders and the public to identify the goals for the area and creating a preliminary vision statement based on stakeholder collaboration and public input, which will be used to guide any future development plan.
  2. Determining what is needed to make the agreed upon vision come to fruition.
  3. Identifying strategies for funding the desired development and infrastructure in order to best achieve the goals of the many stakeholders involved.

Utah has a strong history of making strategic and significant capital investments that serve as a catalyst to lasting prosperity. The existing and future prison properties should act as transformative economic investments if developed appropriately. As a business community, we will actively engage to ensure these generational opportunities are not squandered. As such we are encouraging all relevant firms, regionally, nationally and globally to review the RFP and help provide critically needed expertise.

The Point of the Mountain Development Commission is the issuer of this RFP and any subsequent addenda to this RFP. Inquiries regarding this RFP should be directed, in writing by email, to

Robert H. Rees, Associate General Counsel, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel Email: [email protected]

State Water Development Commission Beings Implementation of SB251

This month the State Water Development Commission began implementation of Senate Bill 251 which established criteria for better water data, data reporting and conservation targets. The bill also institutes a process for the independent verification of water data and proposed projects.

This past session the Salt Lake Chamber was a major advocate of the bill, including the bill as one of our Priority Votes, as a companion to the earmark reform and reallocation bill (SB80) to ensure we are strengthen resources for policymakers and the public to implement evidence based policy and informed decisions based on data.

Senate Bill 251 will help in the development of a comprehensive state water strategy to continue the legacy of meeting our long-term water needs, protect our current water resources and make disciplined investments using data driven decision-making.

The Division of Water resources will be working with the Commission in the coming months to implement the various aspects of the bill including a select number of RFPs. We hope these build on the intent of SB 251 to bring the best and brightest to bear to assist the state in this process.

If you are interested in this topic please contact Michael Parker.

Update on Grand Boulevards

Stakeholders across the community are seeking to address the city’s first impressions of a “Grand Boulevard” at the entrance to Salt Lake City at 500 and 600 South. The Legislature’s Business and Labor Interim Committee is studying the item as a convener of many stakeholders and the fact the state owns both roads.

This month focused on the transportation component of this. The discussion included presentations from the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah Department of Transportation Region Two Director, Bryan Adams and Salt Lake City’s Community and Economic Development Director, Mike Reberg.

Key highlights:

From UDOT’s perspective, they are balancing several needs:

  • First, is most obvious. UDOT’s function is to move vehicles—a high volume of vehicles—through the corridor each day.
  • Second, is to keep Utah’s economy moving forward, which means supporting the health and growth of businesses in our downtown with the right kind of infrastructure and access.
  • Third, UDOT is partner in supporting the many parties involved with bringing the vision for this area to life.
  • 600 S. carries nearly 4700 cars/hr in peak time and a total of 45,000/day.
  • 500 S. carries nearly 4000 cars/hr in peak time and a total of 35,000/day.
  • Currently these major corridors have 100 accesses and 80 driveways to accommodate. UDOT is always looking at ways beyond adding capacity to improve traffic function.
  • By planning an entire corridor with the city and stakeholders, there is a unique opportunity to create a cohesive access plan.
  • By taking a more strategic approach to access management we can reduce slowdowns, improve traffic function and create a safer corridor.
  • As a driver, you have experienced the negative effects when accesses are too close to each other or to intersections.
  • Drivers slow down to exit or interrupt the flow by entering the corridor at frequent, irregular intervals.

The Chamber’s formal position on the issue is:

Grand Boulevards – We support improvements to revitalize the main arteries in and out of Utah’s capital city that enhance safety and improve the perception of our state. We also support the thoughtful redesign of downtown way- finding.

September interim will focus on billboards and utilities. If you are interested in this topic, please contact Abby Albrecht.

Regional Transmission Operation Proposal

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and PacifiCorp (PAC) are assessing a proposal to expand CAISO’s management of the bulk electrical system beyond California to incorporate regions served by PAC. Transition to a multi-state regional entity would require agreement from California, Utah, and other affected states. The Governor’s Office of Energy Development is evaluating impacts on Utah’s energy systems, net benefits to ratepayers, impacts on Utah’s energy independence, and long-term value stream that would be associated with potential regional system operations.

A myriad of speakers testified on the proposal to the Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Interim Committee.

The Chamber supports efforts to expand and modernize Utah’s energy infrastructure to take full advantage of new and existing sources of energy, as abundant and affordable energy contributes directly to our quality of life and strengthens our economy. Enhancing access to competitively priced energy can potentially be a key driver of our economic competitiveness. This acts as a foundation for broader economic strength, supporting job creation and rural economic development.

The CAISO would be a significant policy shift and the Chamber has not taken a formal position on the proposal. In the months ahead the Chamber’s Energy and Minerals Task Force will develop a formal position for the 2017 Public Policy Guide to recommend the Chamber’s executive board. If you are interested in this topic please contact Abby Albrecht.

Special Session Bills

Governor Gary R. Herbert issued a call for a special session of the Utah State Legislature on July 13. The governor signed all eight bills passed by the Utah State Legislature during the July special session. For a complete list, see the table below.

H.B. 3002, State Fair Park Amendments was a significant step to the state making the state fair park a showplace of inspiration to residents of Utah. Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO, Lane Beattie has been actively working to find lasting solution to investment in the fair park, including the most recent attempts by Real Salt Lake which eventually decided on a site in West Valley.

S.B. 3001 and S.B. 3002 are both bills that were watched by the Chamber during the Legislative session.

S.B. 3001 requires the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee to review certain credits related to individual income tax, corporate income tax, motor and special fuel tax, taxation of admitted insurers, and economic development; and establishes requirements for the review by the Revenue and Taxation Interim.

S.B 3002 give a sales tax exemption to companies that build enterprise scale data centers. The bill is expected to aid in the state’s efforts to recruit large scale tech investments and would forgo a potential sales tax burden to businesses and individuals of $5.8 million in FY 2017 and FY 2018. The Chamber supported the final bill after the original bill (SB 178) did not pass during the general legislative session.

We support strategic tax incentives that enhance and grow Utah’s economy in strategic industries, such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing, software and IT development, aerospace and defense, logistics and distribution centers, energy development and financial services.

Bill Number Bill Name Bill Sponsor
H.B. 3001 Tax Credit Review Amendments Rep. Jeremy Peterson
H.B. 3002 State Fair Park Amendments Rep. Sandra Hollins
H.B. 3003 Unmanned Aircraft Amendments Rep. Don Ipson
H.B. 3004 Criminal Justice Reinvestment Amendments Rep. Eric Hutchings
S.B. 3001 Controlled Substance Database Modifications Sen. Todd Weiler
S.B. 3002 Economic Development Revisions Sen. Curt Bramble
S.B. 3003 Judicial Nominating Commissions – Amendments Sen. Pete Knudson
S.B. 3004 Continuing Care Retirement Community Amendments Sen. Deidre Henderson