Lawmakers still have some big issues to tackle in the final week of the 2017 session

Utah State CapitolLast week of the Utah 2017 Legislature and still several significant issues to resolve.

First, will Utahns see major state tax reform this year?

Chances are not good for any personal income tax changes.

But there could still be something on the sales tax put back on food.

The problem with the latter – as House Speaker Greg Hughes pointed out to UtahPolicy last week – is that the best way not to harm poorer Utah families facing a higher tax on food is through the income tax reform.

If the 3 percentage points in state sales tax are put back on unprepared food, low-income families will be harmed more than rich ones – because a greater percent of their disposable income goes to feeding themselves and their children.

You can give them a break by allowing them to file for some kind of tax rebate. However, that could be complicated, and how many low-income folks would really file for such returns, especially if they don’t pay any income tax.

Democrats are just waiting to bash Republicans for harming the poor under the guise of tax reform.

Second, Hughes and his cohorts in helping Utah’s homeless problem – something the speaker is personally invested in – still have to find millions of dollars to pay for the effort.

A week ago Friday Hughes et al. held a large press conference announcing the renewed effort, which includes more state monies next fiscal year, starting in July.

The $28 million or so GOP legislative leaders promised a year ago was initially coming over three fiscal years.

But now as the effort to close the Road Home large shelter on Rio Grande intensifies, the build-out of three new shelters and remodeling of a Midvale center moves faster.

And along with a new local option sales tax/state tax plan for ongoing homeless funding, additional state funds must be found for the 2017-2018 budget lawmakers are racing to balance out.

Hughes is determined. But finding more money for the homeless effort in the final week won’t be easy.

Already accomplished – but still needing to the Senate – is the “large lift” of alcohol reform – and getting away with the so-called Zion Curtain.

And a $1 billion road bond bill still must pass committee muster and both houses.

Killed once again was the effort to make Utah a concealed/carry state without a special permit.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert – if one may say so – dodged a close one this year after the NRA shot itself in the foot (yes, two bad clichés in one sentence) by opposing a concealed/carry bill over the silly argument of whether you can have a live round in the chamber while you hid your handgun under your coat.

Finally, Herbert and GOP legislative leaders lost the Outdoor Retailer convention over trying to get the Trump administration to rescind the Obama-designated Bears Ears National Monument.

But Trump has not tried to undo the new monument, yet. And if he doesn’t do so, Utah may have lost its largest Salt Palace convention and its $45-million economic kick with little to show for it.

The bill voting will come fast and furious the final four days as the session ends at midnightThursday.

Anything not done, or done poorly, can always be visited in one, two or even three special sessions likely coming over the remaining nine months of 2017.

Even though the Legislature only officially meets for 45 days, they never really seem to be out of session.