Every year, the Salt Lake Chamber brings senior representatives from Utah’s business and civic community to Washington, D.C. to meet with key members of Congress, White House officials, cabinet members, military leaders, business executives and thought leaders. This trip is recognized as one of Utah’s leading legislative trips to the nation’s capital, featuring small group advocacy meetings, senior level briefings and exclusive special events.
The trip also serves an important role in the Salt Lake Chamber’s public policy efforts. The trip builds on the Chamber’s year-round legislative advocacy efforts on the federal level. This document is a consolidation of key federal priorities included in the Salt Lake Chamber’s Public Policy Guide, priorities expressed by the Board of Governors and key legislation being advanced by our federal delegation. It is updated before every Washington, D.C. trip.
Throughout the day the Chamber had roundtable discussions with Utah’s Federal Delegation.
Senator Orrin Hatch:
Marc Bennett of HealthInsight led the roundtable with Senator Orrin Hatch. They discussed health care and entitlement reform and immigration. Additionally, they talked about his legacy and what he wanted to be remembered for.
“Utah has an open mind when it comes to immigration reform. In Utah, we generally run things better than most. Frankly, we’ve handled our immigration issues pretty well.”
“Immigration reform is one of the most contentious issues in DC. Utah has done a good job of advancing the values included in the Utah Compact. Hopeful for a solution on a national level but it will require collaboration.”
Congresswoman Mia Love:
Ray Pickup of WCF Insurance led the roundtable with Congresswoman Mia Love. They discussed trade, small business and regulation. In regards to trade, Rep. Love said “One of the biggest concern we have in Congress is that the administration is not clear with a strategy. Fundamentally, I am for free trade. I believe if you are able to allow products to cross borders that soldiers won’t.” She shared her concerns about China, how trade wars impact industries here at home and being dependent on other countries for food sources.
It’s difficult for small business to start up or expand because of the lack of access to credit. Rep. Love said,”We can’t have capitalism without access to capital.” She emphasized how this hurts our communities and shared her plans to make sure banks can provide access to credit and ultimately help our economy thrive. When discussing tax reform, she said “This is about access to credit and about being able to put more into the economy and help grow the economy. We’ve been able to do that with tax reform – putting more money into the pockets of people and taxing people and businesses less, so that we can become competitive in the global market.”
Congressman Rob Bishop:
Dave Smith of Penna Powers led the roundtable with Congressman Rob Bishop. They discussed energy, public lands, and the armed services. When discussing public lands, he specified that their does not need to be a conflict between economic development, recreation and conservation.
In recent months, there has been talk of moving the BLM headquarters to the west. When asked what the selling points are for the new HQ, Congressman Bishop said, “It will be heavily determined by the community’s support and the quality of life in the area.” However, he doesn’t know the timetable for when a decision will be made.
Our biggest problem with the armed services right now he says is retention. However, he isn’t worried about Hill AFB closing and says “It’s a good and stable base. But the reason Hill AFB is so successful is because of the people who work there and the local community support.”
Senator Mike Lee:
Mark Walker of EnergySolutions led the roundtable with Senator Mike Lee. They discussed transportation, water, opportunity zones and medical cannabis. In regards to transportation, “it’s been key to our nation’s success and allowed our country to continue into a fully integrated nationwide economy,” and says to solve the transportation infrastructure revenue shortfall is to use the federal gasoline tax revenue on what it was intended for – the interstate corridor.
“Congress needs to move marijuana to a Schedule II classification so that it can be adequately studied… then it can fit into a category similar to other prescription drugs that are controlled,” said Senator Lee. Additionally, he discussed the implications this has for the banking and insurance industry, and what he is doing to help move this issue along.
Lastly, one issue Senator Lee feels is overlooked in Washington, D.C. is regulation reform. “This would do more for Utah’s poor and middle class, and Utah’s business community, than any other measure.”
Touring the U.S. Capitol
Additionally, trip attendees were given the opportunity to have a tour of the U.S. Capitol from Senator Lee’s staff. If you’ve never taken a tour and find yourself in D.C. this is one thing you won’t want to miss. Learn more about visiting the Capitol, here.
Ready for the next roundtables and specialized Day 3 tracks. Follow along with us @saltlakechamber or #UTBizinDC #SLCinDC.