It is the third week of the session, and the House and the Senate have declared it “Utah Water Week” as legislative leadership unveiled a series of bills targeting water conservation and the preservation of the Great Salt Lake.
Several bipartisan water-related bills focus on long-term approaches to our water shortage, including conservation incentives, measuring systems, instream flow, and centralized oversight. These are available on our legislative watchlist. Because access to a clean and adequate water supply is essential for business growth and success, water is an advocacy priority for the Chamber. We are closely watching these bills.
Additional topics making a splash in the headlines include social media regulation, technology commercialization, and funding in the Appropriations Committee. Take a look at some of the highlights below.
- SB 152, Social Media Regulation Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Michael McKell
- This bill would require social media companies to use age verification to prevent minors from signing up without their parent’s permission and would prohibit companies from collecting or selling personal data of minors. In addition, the bill would require every adult in Utah to submit age verification in order to use social media and the accounts of minors would need to be associated with a verified adult account.
There has been debate on both sides of this bill. One side argues that existing laws and regulations already require companies to protect children’s privacy and personal information online, and failure to comply currently results in significant fines and damage to their reputation. Others argue, however, not enough is being done and want tech companies to take child safety and well-being more seriously, and be more accountable. The Chamber will continue to monitor this and other tech-related bills.
- HB 42, Technology Commercialization Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Stenquist
- This bill establishes the Utah Innovation Lab and provides a $15M one-time fund to spur innovation, mentorship, and entrepreneurship across the state. The Utah Innovation Lab will serve as an independent, non-profit, quasi-public corporation. In partnership with the Point of the Mountain, the goals of the innovation lab are to foster creativity and entrepreneurship, leading to the development of new and innovative products, services, and technologies. The Chamber currently supports this bill as it helps to create a culture of innovation and the development of new ideas and technologies that can contribute to long-term economic growth and success in our state.
Appropriation Committee Bills
The Chamber monitors funding requests that may impact our members. These bills are in the hearings phase and open to input from the public. (For reference, the budget process in Utah begins with the Governor’s proposed budget, which is reviewed and considered by the Appropriation Committee and the entire legislature. The legislature holds hearings, receives input from the public, and ultimately passes a budget that is sent to the Governor for his signature.)
- Active Transportation Statewide Trails Network ($55 million one-time and $45 million ongoing)
- This funding would create a network of paved trail projects connecting Utah communities together. These Regional Active Transportation projects enable more people to walk and bike and promote healthy lifestyles. These projects also reduce vehicle congestion and subsequently improve air quality.
- Backbone Infrastructure for The Point ($108 million one-time)
- This funding would go to the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority, which will develop the backbone infrastructure to begin moving forward with The Point, the redevelopment of the Draper State Prison site, one of the premiere economic opportunities in Utah history.
- State Infrastructure Bank Additional Funding ($100 million one-time)
- This funding would create a revolving loan fund used to provide loans and other assistance to public entities for infrastructure projects such as transportation improvements or public sewer or water infrastructure.
- Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation Facilities Updating ($79.8 million one-time)
- This funding would update the facilities used during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
- Cloud Seeding Program ($3.4 million one-time and $2.2 million ongoing)
- This would be used to enhance the current cloud seeding operations and seed mountainous areas in the Great Salt Lake watershed that are currently not targeted for cloud seeding.
We are here to support you. If you have any questions regarding what is above or other legislation, please reach out to our team.
We Stand as the Voice of Business.
The Salt Lake Chamber Policy Team