Public Policy – October Update

As the “Voice of Business” and Utah’s statewide Chamber, the Salt Lake Chamber leads out on critical issues that impact Utah businesses and our community. 

In the coming weeks, here is how we plan to “move the dial” to grow our economy, promote community prosperity and champion business in Utah, as well as ways for you to participate for the month of October and beyond.

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Public Policy 

Natalie Gochnour, Associate Dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber, addresses the Utah state budget in her article published on October 3 in the Deseret News. The Salt Lake Chamber will be working over the next few months with key partners, legislators and the Governor’s office to address Utah’s big three — education, transportation and water — which all have significant needs. A growing economy requires investment in human and physical capital. As a high-growth state, Utah must provide Utah’s workforce with the skills of the 21st century and constantly maintain and invest in roads, pipelines and other infrastructure. It costs a lot of money to stay in front of the curve.

In addition, the Salt Lake Chamber’s executive board will be reviewing and approving the 2015 policy positions in the coming months. The public policy guide serves as the platform for the business community’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session, desired action in Washington and other key community issues. You can find the 2014 Public Policy Guide here.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or [email protected].

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Energy and Minerals: Fall Energy Trip (Oct. 21-22) 

The next Energy Mineral Task Force meeting will be held November 12th from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

Last week the Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Office of Energy participated in the 2014 Fall Energy Excursion into Utah’s coal country and southeastern energy producing counties. The one-night, two-day excursion built on the success of previous excursions to the Uinta Basin (Fall 2013) and Milford/Beaver (Spring 2014). A report of this successful trip will be at the upcoming Task Force meeting.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or [email protected].

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Prosperity 2020

On Tuesday, October 28, Prosperity 2020 and Education First will announce a 5-year plan to take Utah’s education to the top ten by 2020. The plan is the result of collaboration over the past few years with education stakeholders and will serve as a starting point for a long-term state plan to improve education outcomes in Utah.

Key drivers of performance have been identified in discussions at the Governor’s Commission on Educational Excellence, the Legislative Education Task Force chaired by Senate and House leadership, Legislative education committees, in focus groups with superintendents, principals, teachers and others, and elsewhere.

The plan will be announced publicly at the AcademicXL conference to a select group of 300 leaders in education, government, businesses and parents. Details will be shared through social media throughout the morning.

Review the plan and sign up to support education by following Tune in on October 28, 8:30 a.m. to noon to follow the discussion.

Please contact Allyson Bell at [email protected] or Jana Scott [email protected]com for information.

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Natural Resources Business Council

The Natural Resource Business Council represents an inclusive approach to multiple sectors of Utah’s economy. The Council is the guiding body for the water, energy and minerals, and outdoor recreation and tourism task forces.

Every other month, we meet as a group of four-task forces and then in the off months each task force meets independently. This not only drives unity, but helps the Chamber maximize its staff resources and alleviate conflicts and silos.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or [email protected]

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Clean Air: 4th Annual Clean Air Summit Scheduled for Early December

The Next Clean Air Task Force meeting will be held November 4th.

This month the Clean Air Task Force met with the Natural Resources Business Council to discuss Envision Utah’s Clean Air Action Team Policy recommendations. The recommendations include actions related to Tier 3 fuels and vehicles, addressing wood burning, investing in public and active transportation, adopting a rule to require supplies to sell only ultra-low NOx water heaters and adjusting new building codes to promote energy efficiency. The Chamber is currently in support of several recommendations, but is not endorsing or adopting all the recommendations at this time. In addition, the Clean Air Task Force heard from Representative Becky Edwards to discuss legislation regarding the state’s air quality regulatory powers. Additionally, the Task Force will begin work on the second Inversion Mitigation Effort, through which we encourage the business community to do what they can to reduce emissions during our winter inversion season.  The Task Force will continue to develop an agenda for the 4th Annual Clean Air Summit scheduled forDecember 4, 2014.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Ryan Evans at (801) 328-5063or [email protected].

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Water: Water Task Force

The next Water Task Force meeting will be held November 20th.

Natalie Gochnour, Associate Dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber, spoke at the Utah Water Law Conference about the future of Utah. The conference included keynote speakers Tage Flint, CEO of Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and Warren H. Peterson Vice President of Farmland Reserve. Water conservation remains a critical issue for the state. As we enter the 2015 legislative session it is important to make water a continual priority.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or [email protected].

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Outdoor Recreation & Tourism

The Outdoor Recreation Office has been working on new policy initiatives. The first concerns HB 133, which established priorities for opening and maintaining Utah’s national monuments, national forests and national recreation areas during fiscal emergencies. The second initiative is to advocate new legislation to fund backcountry rescues. New legislation would establish a secondary source of funding for the existing search and rescue programs. Additonally, a voluntary search and rescue card could be purchased by individuals or families. Utah has suffered heavy financial burdens from search and rescue assignments and the SAR cards would provide an insurance against costs of rescue within the state. Colorado and New Hampshire have implemented similar programs. It is important to continue to promote best practices to help overcome issues within the outdoor recreation industry.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Jesse Dean at (801) 328-5045or [email protected].

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Utah Transportation Coalition: Unified Plan Needs a Unified Front to Fund Transportation

The Utah Transportation Coalition will be holding their next executive committee meeting on November 13th.

Later this fall the Utah Transportation Coalition will be unveiling their public education campaign to communicate the value of transportation in local business communities. Last week the Utah Transportation Coalition hosted a roundtable discussion with former New York City Transportation Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Kahn, at the Salt Lake City Chamber. We’re excited to announce that the Utah Transportation Coalition Chairman, David R. Golden, was invited to speak at a Colorado Transportation Summit at request of the Colorado Department of Transportation. In addition, H. David Burton has stepped down as co-chair of the Utah Transportation Coalition because of his recent appointment as Chair of Utah Transit Authority; we deeply appreciate H. David Burton’s leadership and contributions to the coalition during his role as chair.

For more details visit or contact Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or [email protected]

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Downtown Alliance: Downtown Still Rising

Downtown property owners met with Salt Lake City planning staff to discuss the Downtown Master Plan after it received a favorable recommendation for the Salt Lake City Planning Commission. The Master Plan is intended to be a 25-year vision and implementation plan that will guide future growth and development downtown. Property owners voiced several concerns to the city over the regulatory nature of some of the visioning principle,s as well as the lack of a cohesive economic development strategy that will help to define downtown’s future as the regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment. The plan and its subsequent recommendations from the business community, are set to be reviewed before being adopted by the Salt Lake City Council in November.

For more information on the Downtown Master Plan, please visit If you are interested in learning more please contact Director of Urban Development, Jesse Dean, at [email protected].

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Health System Reform 

The next Health System Reform Task Force meeting will be held November 20th.

The Health System Reform Task Force hosted a casual breakfast discussion with 4th District Congressional Candidates Mia Love (R) and Doug Owens (D). Both candidates addressed their views on implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Immigration Reform Efforts, Federal Transportation Efforts and Federal Regulations. Expect more updates from the Task Force in the upcoming weeks. In the most recent meeting, the Health Systems Reform Task force addressed Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah report. The Governor has decided to not call a special session for the plan, and instead wait for the legislature to address it in the upcoming 2015 session. An article about the Governor’s plan can be seen here.

If you have any other questions or comments, please reach out to Justin Jones at (801) 558-9371 or [email protected].

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International: Utah Global Forum

World Trade Center Utah is hosting Rural Utah International Business Forum on November 3rd from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in Vernal. The Forum will discuss opportunities for rural businesses to participate in the global economy and the process for international expansion and exporting. Registration is free, but is limited to 90 attendees. Register online here.

For questions regarding the Utah Global Forum please visit: