Public Policy Priorities

The history of Utah’s economy is one of transformation, industry and purposeful planning. Our forbearers developed a principled ever-changing blueprint for our current economic success.

Today, Utah is known as a great place to live, work, innovate, play and connect to global markets. Disruptive innovations, globalization and local challenges require a new forward-looking framework for Utah’s continued economic prosperity.

A purposeful, engaged and active statewide business community plays a vital role in Utah’s prosperity. To fulfill this responsibility, the Salt Lake Chamber board, committees and partners will build on current and past efforts to sketch Utah’s Next Economic Blueprint.

This comprehensive effort will help guide our state’s long-term economic direction and competitiveness. Key Areas of focus include:

  • Economic Dynamism: Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Unleashing Opportunity: Boosting economic mobility and high-wage job creation
  • Knowledge Captial: Creating a workforce for tomorrow’s jobs
  • Global Crossroads: Amplifying global competitiveness and connectivity
  • Transformative Choices: Making strategic capital investments
  • Unrivaled Location: Enhancing quality of life, health and happiness

We invite you to dream big, think hard and engage as we sketch Utah’s Next Economic Blueprint. Learn more about the process at slchamber.com/blueprint.

STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

Ingredients for Success
We believe low taxes, effective regulation, top-notch infrastructure, a talented workforce, competitive energy prices and a well-managed, limited government create the environment for economic success.

POLICY POSITIONS

Tax Policy
We support tax policies that strengthen Utah’s economy and properly balance tax simplicity, efficiency, fairness, revenue sufficiency and transparency.

No General Tax Increase
We oppose increases in income, sales or property taxes that are not supported by the public.

Collection of Remote Sales and Use Taxes
We support a simplified regulatory framework under which remote sellers collect and remit taxes already owed by individual buyers to the State. We believe Congress should enact federal legislation providing fairness and certainty in the marketplace, as well as ease of compliance for remote sellers. Read the Chamber’s principles regarding Collection of Remote Sales and Use Tax in full: HERE

Regulation
A modern, balanced and transparent regulatory system gives businesses the confidence they need to hire, invest and innovate. We support regulations that create a level playing field for business while protecting public safety and the environment, encouraging capital investment, removing uncertainty, improving transparency, and reducing the burden on business.

Alcohol Regulation
We support the regulation of alcohol that satisfies public demand, ensures public safety, discourages underage drinking, and cultivates a welcoming and hospitable climate for tourism and business recruitment efforts.

Minimum Wage
We support efforts to expand economic opportunity for lower income Utahns through increased education, enhanced training opportunities and an earned income tax credit. We oppose significant increases to the minimum wage as it would adversely affect small business, reduce employment opportunities and raise prices artificially.

Statewide Non-discrimination Legislation
We support the statewide non-discrimination legislation passed in 2015 that protects against employment and housing discrimination, while guaranteeing protections for religious liberty.

First Amendment Rights
We support efforts to ensure individuals, businesses and organizations are not restricted in exercising their First Amendment rights.

Downtown Development
We encourage policies and investments that support downtown Salt Lake City’s role as a vibrant and diverse urban center for the Intermountain West. This includes supporting the most efficient processes, ordinances and business regulations that encourage economic development.

2017 POLICY PRIORITIES

Protecting Non-compete Agreements
We support the reasonable and responsible uses of non-compete agreements and other post-employment restrictive covenants that adequately protect both employers and employees, and are freely and openly entered into by both parties.

Modernizing Utah’s Tax Code
We believe that Utah’s tax system must be modernized. We will actively work with elected leaders to find the best process, approach and options for meaningful tax reform, including a complete review of all existing taxes and fees, while preserving legislative flexibility for future appropriations. This includes creating greater equity and efficiency in the tax code by allowing a sales tax exemption for all manufacturing inputs and reforming our state’s tax apportionment formula.

Federal Tax Reform
We support comprehensive reforms of the American tax system that will attract international investment, encourage innovation, foster economic growth and job creation, and increase our global competitiveness. This must include a full repeal of the 2.3 percent medical device excise tax, as it impedes American innovation that creates jobs and saves lives.

STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

Free Enterprise
We support America’s free enterprise system as the best way to grow the economy, stimulate innovation and create jobs.

Thriving Community
We champion Utah’s enviable life quality and commitment to the greater good, including support for our major arts organizations.

Economic Resilience
We support strengthening Utah’s economic capacity to endure significant disasters and local, national and international economic changes.

Informed Decisions
We support strengthening resources for evidence-based public policy.

Strategic Partnerships
We create and sustain model partnerships with other like-minded entities, such as chambers of commerce and business associations across the state and around the world, to drive economic development. This also includes:

  • Downtown Alliance
  • Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah)
  • Envision Utah
  • Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)
  • Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah
  • World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah)

POLICY POSITIONS

Utah’s Future Growth
We support disciplined planning and investment, including smart growth principles that will enhance our community, economy and quality of life.

Global Business Destination
We support public policy that encourages open markets, fair trade and empowers the participation of Utah businesses to compete in the global marketplace.

Downtown Development
A vibrant metropolitan center is an important economic engine. In partnership with the Downtown Alliance, we support investments and policies that reinforce downtown Salt Lake City’s position as a regional urban center for culture, commerce and entertainment for the Intermountain West.

Building Utah’s Image
Perceptions of Utah are an important component of our economic success. We support continued funding of business marketing and global branding efforts, which will build our state’s global brand and keep Utah “top of mind” as a premier business destination. We oppose unproductive “message bills” that detract from our state’s image.

Economic Development Incentives
We support tax incentives for strategic industries as an important tool to keep Utah economically competitive. These incentives should require companies to create new, high-paying jobs or make significant capital investments that help improve our standard of living, diversify the state’s economy, grow the tax base, attract and retain top-level management, and encourage graduates of in-state universities to remain in Utah. We also support clear policy objectives so that rigorous reviews of incentive programs can be effectively performed.

2017 POLICY PRIORITIES

International Trade and Investment
We support efforts to grow Utah’s export base and attract foreign investment dollars through partnerships, trade missions, hosting dignitaries and training on international trade.

Economic Gardening
We support efforts to aid existing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by leveraging outreach, research and sophisticated business intelligence tools. These efforts should advance community goals, while informing regional and state economic development strategies and priorities.

Small Business and Entrepreneurship
We support funding to invest in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Specifically, we support the development and expansion of programs at local incubators and business development centers that support entrepreneurs, especially for women, minorities, and past and active service members.

Rural Economic Development
We support rural economic development efforts that advance infrastructure investment and export opportunities.

Homeless Services
We support planning and funding from communities throughout Utah for facilities, services and housing as part of a long-term strategy to address homelessness. This is an economic and moral challenge that will require collaborative solutions, including mental health care, job training, substance abuse treatment and new investments in affordable housing.

End Panhandling
We support communications efforts to educate the public about the problems of giving to individual panhandlers and the need to support community organizations dedicated to helping the homeless. We also support enforcement of ordinances and laws that curtail aggressive panhandling and camping in the public right of way.

Military Affairs
We support strong relationships between Utah’s military and defense communities with the broader business community. This includes championing efforts to support our veterans, National Guard and active duty service members and their families.

Cybersecurity
We support improving business awareness of cyberthreats and enhancing legal certainty, protection and response capabilities to mitigate cyberattacks and intrusions. We also support the development of a cybersecurity-focused workforce and other related economic development opportunities.

Sustain USTAR
We support the mission and continued funding of the Utah Science Technology and Research agency as a critical component in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth.

EDUCATION STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

Innovation, Accountability and Investment
We stand with Governor Herbert and the Utah Legislature in supporting a long-term plan for education. We believe the recommendations in the “Prosperity Through Education” plan will elevate our educational outcomes to be globally competitive. The plan is available at prosperity2020.com.

EDUCATION POLICY POSITIONS

Funding Growth
We support the full funding of growth for enrollment and the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) every year.

Parental Engagement
We support education policies that recognize the importance of family involvement and encourage parental participation.

2017 EDUCATION POLICY PRIORITIES

Pre-K–3 Targeted Reading
We support evidence-based funding for expanded early intervention reading programs. This includes increased voluntary pre-school, voluntary full-day kindergarten, community schools and other innovative public-private partnerships to support school readiness and success for at-risk students.

Math Proficiency
We support investments for technology devices and technology-based assessments to support math instruction for students.

Math Instruction
We support expanded math endorsements and technology training for teachers, as well as professional learning opportunities for math teachers and STEM endorsements for secondary math teachers.

Access to Critical Guidance
We support additional middle and high school counselor and mentor positions, as well as targeted professional development for counselors on issues related to college access and success. We also support middle and high school advocate, academic coach and tutor programs.

Improving Instruction
We support incentives for innovative teaching strategies and technologies that improve instruction and student performance.

Merit-based Compensation
We support enhanced merit-based compensation, and extended teacher contracts that differentiates compensation for teacher leaders, teacher mentors, learning community leaders and coaches.

Access and Affordability
We support funding enrollment growth and providing consistent base funding for higher education. We also support innovative programs that direct investment to students that are properly preparing themselves for success in postsecondary education, moving through certificate and degree programs in a timely manner.

Incentivizing College Completion
We support instructional performance rewards for increasing postsecondary completion rates. We also support access and outreach initiatives to increase participation and completion rates of underserved students.

Outcome-based Scholarships
We support increased funding to meet the growing demand for scholarships that encourage students to prepare for college academically and financially by taking a core course of study and saving for college. We also support expanded and new performance-based scholarships that specifically support lower income students.

Workforce Alignment
We support innovative efforts to strategically align the private and public sectors to attract and train a skilled and talented workforce. This includes increasing certificate and degree programs, and stackable certificates that meet high-wage, high-demand workforce needs.

WORKFORCE STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

Industrious Workforce
We believe that supporting and strengthening Utah’s workforce enables our economy to thrive.

Untapped Potential
We believe that many industries are impacted by a lack of hourly and skilled talent. There is untapped potential throughout our state that can provide a highly creative, diverse, productive and industrious workforce. Utah’s current skilled-talent shortage should also serve as a warning sign of the future constraints on our economy from an under-qualified workforce.

WORKFORCE POLICY POSITIONS

The Utah Compact
Utah is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the national discussion on immigration reform. We believe it will grow our economy and provide predictability that businesses need. The five principles articulated in the Utah Compact represent our guiding policy for immigration reform. The full text of the compact is available at utahcompact.com

2017 WORKFORCE POLICY PRIORITIES

Action on Immigration
We continue to call on our federal delegation to fix America’s broken immigration system and advance broad immigration reform that is consistent with the principles of the Utah Compact.

Mandatory Electronic Verification
We support a national electronic verification system for new employees that reduces the existing regulatory burden on businesses, as well as national visa reform, including the bipartisan I-Squared Act. We oppose revocation of business licenses as a penalty for non-compliance.

Empowering Utah’s Heroes
We support efforts to engage and empower Utah’s veterans, National Guard and active duty service members’ expertise, talent and leadership as a distinct economic asset.

Women in the Economy
We support efforts that promote women in the workforce, including the ElevateHER Challenge and the Women in the Economy Commission, among many others.

Retraining Talent
A modern economy has left many Utahns displaced from career employment. Additionally, too many capable Utahns are left without employment opportunities because of a criminal history. We support recent criminal justice reforms, as well as public and private sector programs that retrain and empower individuals to achieve renewed opportunity through employment.

HEALTH CARE STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

Market Principles
We support reform that applies market principles to contain costs and improve health. Such reform includes increasing transparency of cost and quality, as well as fostering competition and providing incentives for patients, doctors, hospitals and insurers to utilize resources in ways that lead to measurably better outcomes.

Controlling Costs
We support bold action to contain unsustainable health care costs.

Health of Utahns
A healthy workforce is necessary for a productive business community. Our community is stronger when we provide access to health coverage for the poorest among us. Health care reform must also address the growing epidemic of obesity and lifestyle-induced diseases, resulting in better health for Utahns.

HEALTH CARE POLICY POSITIONS

Directly Engage Employers
As the largest payer in the health system, employers must strategically expend financial resources. We support direct employer engagement in health care spending to control costs and increase quality.

2017 HEALTH CARE POLICY PRIORITIES

Medicaid Expansion
We support alternate proposals to Medicaid expansion and recognize the necessity of balancing the financial resources of the state with the needs of Utahns. This measured approach must include efforts to apply market principles, such as utilizing Medicaid dollars through the employer market or a health insurance exchange.

Autism Treatment
We support informed action that helps address autism spectrum disorders, which impact all Utahns. The cost of addressing these disorders should be shared by all Utahns and should not be financed through an insurance mandate.

Training Providers of the Future
We support state funding to assist in the construction of the Medical Education and Discovery/Rehabilitation Hospital at the University of Utah, as well as increased funding for Utah’s public nursing schools to train the providers of the future.

STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

Economic Prosperity
We believe that a safe and efficient transportation system, modern energy and broadband infrastructure, and a reliable, clean supply of water are all integral parts of the foundation for economic growth and improved life quality.

Technological Innovation
We embrace technological advancements and design innovations that enhance the efficiency and safety of our infrastructure, expand their scope, improve user satisfaction, protect Utah’s environment and modernize revenue models

Disciplined Planning and Investment
We believe because Utah has substantial growth and limited resources, long-term planning and disciplined investment are required to meet future infrastructure needs.

User Fees
We believe users should bear the primary responsibility for funding Utah’s infrastructure.

TRANSPORTATION POLICY POSITIONS

Core Function of Government
The creation and maintenance of transportation infrastructure is a core responsibility of government. Utah’s elected and appointed officials exhibit economic leadership through their continued commitment to transportation infrastructure investment.

Utah’s Collaborative Approach
Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan is a model for the nation and is our guiding vision for transportation planning and investments. The plan comprehensively prioritizes investments needed now and for decades to come. Learn more at utahunifiedplan.org

Improving Safety
We support Utah’s primary seat belt law, as employers understand that failing to buckle up harms others on Utah’s roads. This will protect operators and passengers in vehicles, save lives, and reduce risk and financial costs.

2017 TRANSPORTATION POLICY PRIORITIES

Federal Transportation Funding
We support a sustainable, predictable and long-term federal investment in Utah’s roads and public transportation.

State Transportation Funding
We support continued investment in our state’s multimodal transportation network to address capacity expansion, maintenance and operations of Utah’s significant transportation assets. We also support the prioritization process of State road projects through the Utah Transportation Commission that relies on proven need, data and planning.

Public Transportation Funding
We support efforts to enhance and increase transit service throughout the state to ensure employees have public transportation options, to address future growth and to improve our air quality. This includes enhanced early-morning, late-night, weekend and holiday service. We also support efforts to ensure the transparency, governance and effectiveness of our state’s public transit agencies.

SUPPORT FOR TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING

Smart Growth
An overwhelming number of Utahns, 82 percent, selected a scenario during the Your Utah, Your Future process that had communities designed around walking, transit, short drives and diverse housing.

Local Transportation Needs
We support efforts to address the critical need of maintenance funding and improved transportation options in Utah’s local communities.

Urban Mobility
We support future projects to enhance mobility in our urban centers, including a downtown Salt Lake City streetcar and a direct TRAX connection between the airport and the University of Utah through downtown.

Grand Boulevards
We support revitalizing the main arteries in and out of Utah’s capital city to enhance safety and improve the perception of our state.

Active Transportation
We support increased investments and additional expansion of active transportation projects that enhance Utahns’ quality of life and improve air quality. This includes the GREENbike | SLC Bike Share program, bike trails and pedestrian projects.

Mountain Transportation
We support efforts to explore transportation options in the Central Wasatch Mountains. These options should increase accessibility, act as a net-positive for the environment, encourage transit, enhance Utah’s global brand and pass a rigorous environmental and local public process.

Airport Redevelopment
We support the Salt Lake City International Airport as an extraordinary asset to Utah’s economy. We will continue to champion the approximately $3 billion terminal redevelopment, funded without any increases in taxes or state funds, as a major investment in our state’s global competitiveness. This includes the world-class transit connection to our urban center and a priority for Utah businesses to participate in the development of this project.

Adaptive State Water Strategy
We support greater investment in Utah’s water data to inform and develop an actionable, adaptive and comprehensive state water strategy. This research, data and technical resources should be funded through the Water Infrastructure Restricted Account. This should also include a thorough analysis on the advantages and disadvantages of how we pay for future investments in water infrastructure and how to further utilize user fees.

Rural Infrastructure
We support rural transportation and energy infrastructure investments, especially in the Uinta Basin, that increase accessibility, improve safety, protect the environment and drive economic development.

Energy Infrastructure
We support efforts to expand and modernize Utah’s energy infrastructure by taking advantage of new and existing sources of energy. Additionally, we believe rate setting should acknowledge the full cost of our energy infrastructure and distribution.

Broadband
We support the economic development focus of the Utah Broadband Outreach Center as a public-private approach to expanding broadband access and infrastructure.

POLICY PRINCIPLES

Balanced Economic Interests
We view Utah’s spectacular natural environment as a legacy passed to us from preceding generations. It provides recreational opportunities and natural beauty that attracts great companies and employees. Our natural resources are also an essential part of many business processes. We must thoughtfully approach how to appropriately balance these economic interests.

Private Sector Solutions and Corporate Citizenship
We support voluntary private sector initiatives to promote efficiency, sustainability and stewardship to improve and preserve our spectacular natural environment.

Personal Responsibility
We recognize businesses, citizens and government share the same natural environment. As Utah continues to grow, we all must commit to improve our air quality, conserve more water, promote responsible resource development and preserve first-class access to outdoor recreation.

Economic Development
Our air quality, water supply, natural resources and outdoor recreation assets have lasting implications on Utah’s ability to retain and attract new businesses and employees. We view these issues through the lens of economic development and market principles.

POLICY POSITIONS

Greenhouse Gas
Global warming requires global solutions. Any federal regulation of greenhouse gases must be designed to prevent the transfer of economic wealth from Utah to other states or nations, minimize economic hardship on businesses and consumers, and allow for alternative means of compliance.

Nuclear
We support development of nuclear power if economically viable, including the assessment of economic risks and a policy for safely storing or reprocessing locally-produced spent fuel.

Federal Air Quality Standards Compliance
We must address air quality issues while minimizing the cost to businesses and, ultimately, consumers. Utah must meet current federal air quality standards. Without action, we may lose federal highway funding, garner additional regulatory burdens, and impair economic development and corporate recruitment.

National and State Parks
We support efforts to invest, enhance and promote Utah’s national and state parks, which attract millions of visitors annually and contribute to urban and rural economies.

Public Lands
We support efforts to responsibly manage Utah’s public lands and properly balance development, recreation and conservation. These efforts should be inclusive of all stakeholders and include the public.

Regional Transmission
We recognize that potential value can be realized from better market access and increased operational efficiencies from a regional transmission organization and operation in the West. However, a change of this magnitude must be carefully evaluated to assess the costs, benefits and risks of any transition.

2017 WATER POLICY PRIORITIES

Water Conservation
We support aggressive water conservation efforts to significantly reduce per-capita water use in communities, as well as investments in Utah’s water data infrastructure to benchmark success. We will also promote voluntary best practices and innovation in water utilization for businesses through the “Utah | Water is Your Business” and “Slow the Flow” initiatives.

2017 CLEAN AIR POLICY PRIORITIES

Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels
We support incentives to convert state, commercial, transit and private sector fleets to cleaner vehicles, and the necessary fuel and support infrastructure. This includes accelerated implementation of the Tier-3 Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Standards Program and other alternative fuels.

Providing Transportation Options
We support increased transportation funding to improve our transit systems, active transportation infrastructure and last-mile options to reduce mobile emissions and eliminate idling on Utah’s roadways.

Small Business Focus
We support minimizing costs incurred from further regulation designed to improve air quality by providing incentives for small business participation in emission reduction practices and retrofitting existing structures to improve energy efficiency.

Area Sources
We support efforts to raise public awareness of building energy performance as area sources become a greater contributor to our emissions inventory.

Federal Ozone Standards
We are concerned that the EPA’s lower ozone standard will disproportionately impact the Intermountain West due to high levels of “background ozone.” This lower standard will adversely affect our state’s economy without a clear impact on societal health. We will actively engage in the stakeholder process and support efforts to clarify the rule to maximize flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

Public Awareness and Research
We support helping Utahns better understand the causes and effects of poor air quality, including funding research and promoting voluntary actions to improve air quality.

INVERSION MITIGATION INITIATIVE

The inversion mitigation initiative, which takes place from January-March each year, is part of the Chamber’s Clean Air Champions program. We recognize that many Utah businesses already do a lot to reduce emissions. Simple TravelWise strategies include:

  • Distribute information and air quality alerts
  • Develop a trip reduction plan
  • Incentivize alternative transportation
  • Provide carpool assistance

What is an Inversion?
Inversions occur during the winter months when normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted. Inversions trap a dense layer of cold air under a layer of warm air. The warm layer acts much like a lid, trapping pollutants in the cold air near the valley floor.
The Wasatch Front valleys and their surrounding mountains act like a bowl, keeping cold air in. The snow-covered valley floors reflect rather than absorb the heat from the sun, preventing the normal vertical mixing of warm and cold air. Fog exacerbates the problem, facilitating chemical reactions that create even more particles and higher pollutant concentrations. The longer the inversion lasts, the higher the levels of pollution trapped under it. The warm inversion air layer is usually displaced by a strong storm system. Learn more at cleanairchampion.com

2017 ENERGY AND MINERALS DEVELOPMENT POLICY PRIORITIES

Competitive Edge
We support access to reasonably priced energy as a driver of Utah’s economic competitiveness and a foundation for broader economic strength, job creation and rural economic development.

Responsible Development
We support policies that encourage and facilitate the responsible development, management and use of natural resources. These essential resources create jobs and ensure access to a high standard of living and quality of life.

Energy Efficiency
We promote energy efficiency and cost-effective energy options for businesses in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, and the thermwise® and wattsmart® programs.

Public Awareness and Research
We support efforts to help Utahns better understand the impact of energy and minerals on our economy, including funding for improved research to promote innovation.

2017 OUTDOOR RECREATION AND TOURISM POLICY PRIORITIES

Outdoor and Tourism Industry
We support Utah’s outdoor recreation and tourism sectors as essential components of Utah’s culture, economy and quality of life. We also support efforts to promote improved outdoor recreation infrastructure and opportunities throughout Utah, and grow rural economies through enhanced recreation and tourism — a concept called “rourism.”

Statewide Recreation Plan
We support the development of a long-term recreation plan that provides additional facilities to meet growing demand, promotes tourism, improves outdoor access for residents and addresses other needs.

Utah Life Elevated®
We support funding to promote Utah’s natural beauty to attract tourism and businesses. We also support long-term commitments to Utah’s tourism marketing, including the Tourism Marketing Performance Fund.

Accommodating Visitors
We support policies that promote the growth of our state’s convention industries, and create a more welcoming and inclusive nightlife experience for locals and visitors alike.