Dear Business Community,
The 2023 General Legislative Session is well underway. The Utah Legislature convened the 65th session on January 17th and will work hard for 45 days to appropriate funding and legislate.
Our team is actively engaged on the Hill, and if you would like to meet with us or relay emerging policy concerns, feel free to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested can also follow along online at le.utah.gov.
The Utah House Majority Caucus released their 2023 policy priorities, entitled The Utah Way Together. The House is working to advance policies around the following pillars:
- Stewardship: of water, energy, and land management
- Affordability: of housing, government services, and taxes
- Investment: in transportation and education
Because water is top of mind for our lawmakers and businesses alike, we are actively watching the following proposals related to water and water conservation.
- Representative Doug Owens will file a bill to increase incentives for “turf buyback” programs in Utah. With a $12 million appropriation, the goal will be to offer as much as $2 a square foot to get rid of what is called “nonfunctional turf,” or lawn that is largely ornamental and serves no real use. This bill would also continue to place restrictions on nonfunctional turf in any new construction projects.
COORDINATED GROWTH & CONSERVATION PLANNING
- Senator Scott Sandall introduced SB 076, Water Amendments, which initiates a regional planning committee that will coordinate the efforts of the Division of Water Resources on water conservation, water transportation, and land use elements to promote water preservation. This planning process will consider feedback from regional jurisdictions to evaluate long-term water plans and infrastructure needs and prioritize those needs.
AGRICULTURE WATER OPTIMIZATION GRANT
- Lawmakers are looking at incentivizing agriculture users to invest in water efficiencies with suggested funding of $200M on-time and $25M ongoing. The Agricultural Water Optimization program has been in place since 2019 and brought about significant successes in optimizing agricultural water use, saving over 7 billion gallons of water in the first year of data collection. This program has also seen increasing interest and support from the agriculture community. $70 million in grants were administered in 2022 alone and funded over 300 projects.
WATER REUSE GRANTS
- There has been a requested $75M one-time competitive grant program for wastewater reuse projects with priority for projects that mitigate the impacts of drought in rural communities and the agricultural sector.
The Salt Lake Chamber Public Policy Team looks forward to advocating for business needs and priorities during the legislative session. We will send the Business Watch e-newsletter each Friday and other pertinent updates as they develop. We encourage you to monitor the Chamber’s legislative watchlist for a comprehensive view of our efforts to act as the Voice of Business!
The Salt Lake Chamber Policy Team
*To view the Salt Lake Chamber’s 2023 Public Policy Guide, click here.