Dear Business Community,
It is the second week of the legislative session and the pace is accelerating. Just eight days into the legislative session, Utah lawmakers have given their final approval to pass HB 215, Funding for Teacher Salaries and Optional Education Opportunities, sponsored by Rep. Candice Pierucci, a controversial bill that allocates $42 million to create the largest school voucher program in state history. The bill, coupled with an increase in teacher pay, has passed both bodies and goes to Governor Cox for signature.
A proposed health care bill by Sen. Curt Bramble titled Prescription Cost Amendmentsaddresses the issue of high prescription drug costs. This bill would require insurance companies to accept manufacturers’ prescription drug coupons or vouchers and apply the discounts to a patient’s deductible. Although it has not been numbered, it has generated debate and has implications for insurance costs for businesses. Because the cost of health care deeply impacts business, this is an issue the Chamber is watching closely.
ESG is an abbreviation for Environmental, Social, and Governance, and it is on the minds of Utahns and Utah lawmakers this session. ESG is a framework used to evaluate a company’s performance on issues related to the environment, social impact, and corporate governance. For example, environmental factors include a company’s carbon footprint and energy usage. Social factors include labor practices, human rights, and community engagement. Governance factors include transparency, compensation, and diversity. The reality is that ESG potentially limits businesses’ opportunities and the government’s ability to work with businesses. Because of this, the Chamber considers ESG legislation government overreach.
The legislature has been working hard at corralling approximately forty ESG bills into four prevailing bills categorized under the subjects of social credit scores, financial institutions, state contracts, and state retirement accounts. The Chamber has summarized these bills on the watchlist and included them below:
- HB 281, Social Credit Score Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Acton
- Seeks to establish and operate a system where consumers can report financial institutions or companies who use or create a social credit score system and creates the “Social Credit Score Prohibition Act”.
- SB 97, Public Contract Requirements, sponsored by Sen. Chris Wilson
- Prohibits a public entity from entering into a contract with a company that engages in certain environmental boycott actions. This includes companies that engage in the exploration, production, utilization, transportation, sale, or manufacture of fossil fuels or its byproducts. It also prohibits entering into contracts with companies who do not meet or commit to meet environmental standards including standards for eliminating, reducing, offsetting, or disclosing greenhouse gasses.
- SB 96, Fiduciary Duty Modifications, sponsored by Sen. Chris Wilson
- Directs fiduciaries to only consider financial factors when investing government funds. The bill also prohibits state funds from being invested with fiduciaries that refuse to do business with companies that do not meet certain environmental standards, or with those who refuse to do business with companies that deal in the firearm industry.
Lawmakers will have major financial decisions to make, with an estimated $3.3 billion surplus available to either spend on a fast-growing list of demands, put away for a rainy day, or fund some generous tax cuts. There are several bills on the Legislative Watchlist as to how lawmakers may manage this surplus.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Stand as the Voice of Business.
The Salt Lake Chamber Policy Team