The Utah Legislative Session ends tonight, March 3rd, and will run up to 11:59 p.m. if deemed necessary by the legislature.
BILLS OF NOTE:
A bill that we have been watching closely is HB 499, Homeless Services Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason.
- WHAT IT DOES: The bill requires the Utah Department of Health and Human Services to initiate a Code Blue Alert when there are weather events that would pose a danger to individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition, the bill prohibits municipalities from receiving funds if they do not prohibit camping (unless all shelters are at capacity) and directs certain counties to convene a winter response task force to prepare a plan for the Office of Homelessness Services.
- WHY IT MATTERS: Helping the homeless population in Utah is not only a moral imperative, but also an issue that has significant implications for the business community. Homelessness can impact the economic vitality of our communities in several ways, including reduced workforce participation, increased healthcare costs, and decreased public safety.
- BILL STATUS: Off to the governor’s desk for signature.
Another bill that made a late entrance to the Utah Legislature is SB 228, Property Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Daniel McCay.
- WHAT IT DOES: In simple terms, the bill requires that the buyer, seller, parcel number, legal description, acreage, and sales prices be disclosed to a special Multi-County Appraisal Trust (MAT), which allows assessors to have more data on property values.
- WHY IT MATTERS: Some say that this bill damages the state’s reputation for being a business-friendly state as they fear that pricing data could be used to tax real estate deals themselves. Others argue that commercial property deals are no different than residential deals and that the data should be available to assessors. Many have requested that this bill be placed on hold and moved to an interim study.
- BILL STATUS: At the present time, the bill is in Rules.
Lastly, SB 31, State Flag Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Daniel McCay, narrowly passed the House with 40 “yes” votes and 35 “no” votes (as a reminder, 38 “yes” votes are required for a bill to pass the House).
- WHAT IT DOES: In a nutshell, the bill officially adopts the final proposed state flag.
- WHY IT MATTERS: Flags are powerful symbols that represent the identity, values, and history of a nation, state, or community. A well-designed flag can convey these attributes effectively and inspire a sense of pride, unity, and belonging. Flag design is a science, and a good flag design should be simple, distinctive, and memorable, with colors and symbols that are meaningful and easily recognizable. Some have said that Utah’s current flag featuring the state seal is not necessarily considered to be a good design because it is complex and intricate, with fine details that can be difficult to distinguish at a distance or when the flag is in motion.
- WHAT IS THE DIVIDE? Those who have spoken in opposition to a new flag say the current flag is full of historical significance and symbolism. Many that have spoken in opposition to the new flag have requested a vote from the general public. Despite the naysayers, the new flag moves forward and supporters of the new flag say that we can move towards branding our state in a new, fresh way.
- BILL STATUS: Off to the governor’s desk for signature. Unless Governor Cox vetoes the bill (which is highly unlikely), Utah, you’re getting a new flag.
As the legislative session comes to a close, we will continue to advocate for policies that support the business community and promote the well-being of all Utahns. Thank you for your support of the Salt Lake Chamber, and please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns and look for our complete legislative wrap-up next week.
During the legislative session, the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Directors designates top priorities of the business community as Priority Votes. The Chamber’s Priority Votes are considered the most critical bills during the legislative session and are used to determine the Chamber’s Business Champion Awards. Below are the most recently declared priority votes.
- HB 42, Technology Commercialization Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Stenquist
- HB 216, Business and Chancery Court Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Brady Brammer
- HB 364, Housing Affordability Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Whyte
- HB 499, Homeless Services Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason
- HB 555, Talent Ready Utah Program Modifications, sponsored by Jefferson Moss
- SB 125, Transportation Infrastructure Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Chris Wilson
- SB 174, Local Land Use and Development Revisions, sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore
- SB 185, Transportation Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Harper