38-15-1: March 5-8
After 45 days, the 2018 General Legislative Session is in the books. This was a tremendous year for Utah’s business community and while there is always more to be done, we applaud the legislature for their work to ensure our state’s future prosperity. The legislative process—from committee meetings to the final floor vote and subsequent signature of the Governor—would not be possible without the efforts of the citizens of Utah, including you as business leaders. Thank you for your engagement in the session. It is only because of your actions that the Chamber and our team can accomplish all that we do in such a short period of time.
As you know, we kicked off the session unveiling our Top 10 Legislative Priorities and reporting on the outcomes of ‘Utah’s Next Economic Blueprint’ project at the Utah Economic Outlook and Public Policy Summit. We are happy to report that many of our Top 10 Priorities and suggested legislative actions, as well as the ideas expressed from Chamber members in the economic blueprint process, are a large part of this year’s legislative successes.
Here are the highlights:
By the Numbers
During the 2018 legislative session, the Chamber tracked a total of 244 bills through our watchlists, supported 55, opposed 9 and issued a total of 22 Priority Votes to legislators.
Addressing Utah’s Workforce Needs
It’s no secret that building and retaining a talented workforce is of the greatest importance to Utah’s business community. Senator Ann Millner carried three of our priority vote bills that specifically address these workforce issues:
- S.B. 104 Talent Recruitment and Retention Strategy is a loan repayment program that incentivizes students to enroll in degree programs that align with high-demand, high-wage jobs and then remain in the state after graduation.
- S.B. 131 Talent Ready Utah Amendments ensures more collaboration across institutions, agencies and industries to fill-in the state’s talent gaps through the creation of the Talent Ready Utah Center within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. This center will promote the inclusion of industry partners in education and provide outreach to employers regarding workforce development programs.
- Nicknamed the “Beattie Bill” after our very own President & CEO Lane Beattie, S.B. 194 Early Literacy Program is an issue of great importance not only for Lane but for business leaders throughout the state. Reading proficiency is fundamental to a child’s learning and sets them up for success in school and in the future as they enter the workforce. This bill funds early intervention reading programs and allows schools to implement these programs in a way that best meets the diverse needs of their students.
A Grand Compromise: Education Funding & Tax Modernization
The Salt Lake Chamber has been an ardent supporter of greater investment in Utah’s education system, modernizing our tax code, and ensuring our infrastructure is equipped to handle Utah’s robust population growth. The following three bills, when combined, do just that through a grand compromise with Our Schools Now leaders and the legislature:
The Chamber’s commitment to support the Our Schools Now initiative has always come with the hope that a legislative solution could be reached, striking the right balance between legislative action and public input. We are thrilled with the efforts of dozens of stakeholders from Our Schools Now, and the Legislature, to develop this well balanced solution. The solution hits on education funding equalization, investment in local roads through a user-based approach, and changes to Utah’s tax policies that utilize a windfall from federal tax reform to reduce personal and corporate tax rates.
Monumental Transportation & Infrastructure Investment to Keep Utah Moving
S.B. 136 Transportation Governance Amendments is monumental legislation that will transform Utah’s transportation system. The bill asserts that our state’s economic development, transportation and infrastructure investment should not be seen as silos. They are directly tied to each other and our state’s growth depends on smart planning that includes consideration of land use and economic development. As such, the bill places an emphasis on investing in multi-modal transportation and requires that land use and economic development be considered in UDOT’s project prioritization criteria. It also includes significant reforms to the Utah Transit Authority, including a new 3-person UTA board to enhance accountability and transparency and incorporate greater state oversight. As key members of the task force that studied these issues during the summer and fall, the Chamber team was heavily involved in the negotiation process of S.B. 136. We look forward to continued collaboration with stakeholders as these reforms are implemented.
Other Bills of Note
Other Priority Votes included topics such as housing affordability , small-cell wireless technology, licensing reciprocity for military spouses, alcohol law amendments , homeless services,medicaid expansion and recognizing Utah’s robust economic growth and urbanization.
We look forward to the opportunity to discuss these bills and other highlights from the session in more detail with you over the coming weeks. If you have any specific questions regarding legislation or the 2018 session, please feel free to reach out to our public policy team.