The second week of the legislative session added numerous bills to committee floors, and hearings were done on funding requests from various groups, including the Chamber’s Downtown Alliance.
Base budget bills all passed for the session and several legislative themes continue to dominate discussions around government authority, income taxes, water conservation and education.
A few highlights from backchannel discussions this week:
- HB 60, Vaccine Passport Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks, would mandate businesses cannot require vaccine proof or check immunity status. The bill steps over the line into private business decisions, the Chamber has consistently opposed any mandate being forced upon business from either the federal government or state leaders. We will continue to advocate for business owners to have the right to do what is best for their employees and customers based on their individual circumstances.
- HB 151, Retail Facility Incentive Payments Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Mike Schultz, deals with public entities like municipalities being able to incentivize retail moving to their city or town. The Utah League of Cities and Towns is working on a counter proposal to this bill with an affordable housing component or infrastructure improvements included therein. Stay tuned.
- HB 232, Utah Lake Authority, sponsored by Rep. Brady Brammer, would create a Lake Authority to oversee any mitigation efforts to Utah Lake. Concerns around infestations and toxic algae blooms persist and this authority would oversee mitigation efforts with an Executive Director and budget.
Other bills of note we continue to watch are SB 129, State Prevailing Wage Requirements, sponsored by Sen. Derek Kitchen, as it deals with construction contractors and employees calling for a prevailing wage. Construction ranks at the top of our economic engine and we will continue to monitor this bill as it moves through the legislature. Rep. Steve Waldrip introduced HB 193, Full-Day Kindergarten, which seeks to expand all day kindergarten offerings and supports access to high-quality early childhood programs designed to improve learning outcomes.
There was also healthy debate on state income tax reduction and the elimination of the tax on food. Proposals and counters are being discussed with input from the Governor. A bill to expand the regulatory sandbox established last year was introduced and secondary water metering came to the fore yesterday.
Last, we are supporting a Utah Business Coalition statement encouraging thoughtful debate around COVID-19 policy that rejects sweeping mandates. We will continue to keep you informed weekly and encourage your input. Continue to check our legislative watchlist for the big picture view on the scope of our advocacy efforts on your behalf.