Public Policy Priorities
A Letter from our President and Chair
We enter this legislative session with vigor to improve our community and the quality of life for Utah families through business advocacy for policies that expand opportunity and prosperity. As the economic shock of the pandemic recedes, new challenges come into focus. The problems we confront are complex and will require our best collaboration to address them now for future success. The Salt Lake Chamber is committed to convening our business leaders to find common ground on policy solutions.
This session brings a renewed emphasis on economic fundamentals in order to get the other challenges right. These revolve around our excellent business climate and setting the stage for economic prosperity across Utah. As part of this backdrop, we must continue to develop environmental solutions and think beyond the Wasatch Front with housing development and remote work.
Energy is a critical focus for the Chamber because its cost and development reach every aspect of our lives. The importance of energy policy will continue to impact costs in the short term; therefore, we must continue to support a transition to an increasingly sustainable and reliable energy future.
Housing also remains a top priority, and innovative thinking around housing policy must drive our agenda to increase units, zoning reform and future infill development. Attention to this area will be necessary to provide a place for our growing workforce.
Last of note is water. The historic drought enveloping Utah and the southwest is bringing the importance of sustainable resource management into focus. The Chamber has a longstanding commitment to policy that improves our natural beauty and environment. Our advocacy for clean air and building water infrastructure to augment conservation is a policy imperative this session.
Similarly, a low tax and regulatory environment will provide the predicate for a robust business landscape capable of solving problems and giving back to the community.
By bringing these pillars together, we will form a strong foundation for our policy success and the opportunity society we strive to create in Utah. Our business community, in partnership with our elected officials, can keep our state at the pinnacle of innovation, governance and shared responsibility to care for one another.
We thank all our civic and community leaders for working together and seeking common ground to overcome our shared challenges. We remain dedicated to providing the space and resources to build one of the most vibrant and engaged communities in the nation. Together we can achieve these worthy goals!
Business Climate & Economy
Utah’s enviable business climate and economic strength continue to set the stage for our future success. Decades of strategic planning around economic diversification, innovation and workforce development have placed our state at the top of the economic ladder. These factors shone brightly during the pandemic and helped Utah emerge with the best outcomes overall compared to any other state in the nation. This entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism of the emerging innovation-driven economy will propel us forward over the next decade.
- We support and advocate for innovation in Utah. We support incentives that promote research and development to keep the state moving forward to be an innovation leader.
- We support policies and innovative programs that support startups and tech commercialization and foster
a relationship with business and academia.
- We support sound cybersecurity policies that promote commerce and trade yet protect critical infrastructure.
- We support future growth strategies that work to build a future Utah, such as the Point of the Mountain and the Inland Port Authority.
Education & Workforce
Businesses are only as good as their workforce. With a historically low unemployment rate, Utah has seen some unprecedented challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining a workforce. We believe many of these challenges can be solved by partnerships between businesses and degree-granting and trade credentialing institutions. By cultivating our talent pipeline in educational institutions, we can bolster and build out our workforce.
Workforce Legislative Priorities
- We support policies that increase the number of qualified workers in the workforce and promote incentives to remove the barriers to re-entry such as child care assistance.
- We support policies and innovative programs that support startups and tech commercialization and foster a relationship with businesses and academia.
- We advocate for fair-chance hiring, expanding talent pipeline management and workforce training programs in underserved communities.
- We support licensing and certifications that are aimed at protecting public health and safety, are not overly burdensome and reduce barriers to upward mobility.
- We support efforts to reduce regulation, increase operational flexibility and minimize the costs of conducting business.
- We support policies that address the ongoing workforce shortage affecting all industries throughout Utah. Policies should enable employers to easily navigate changes in the economy and be responsive to the dynamic nature of the economy.
Education Legislative Priorities
- We champion policies that support the authorization of higher education institutions to accept foreign degrees and credentials to facilitate a strong and diverse talent pipeline.
- We support and advocate for educating the future workforce by investing in educating students in advanced technologies such as robotics, advanced and digital manufacturing, 3D printing, drones, IoT and automation.
- We support policies that strengthen Utah’s public universities, community and tech college systems by advancing funding to cover costs to educate students, support capital projects and enhance flexibility in delivery to provide world-class research facilities and workforce preparation.
- We advocate for improved educator compensation for Utah schools to attract and retain the most qualified educators.
Water, Energy & Environment
The Great Salt Lake is at an all-time, historically low level. The issues and solutions are complex and these complexities require swift interventions so the lake can be healthy for generations to come.
Utah’s business community envisions an energy future that places Utah at the center of the nation’s energy transition by harmonizing environmental and economic progress to ensure a balanced low-carbon energy future that remains affordable, reliable and sustainable. Utah possesses unique energy advantages that will help the state lead out on environmental, energy and economic progress. The Beehive State’s diversity of supply (oil and gas, coal, wind, solar, geothermal, renewable natural gas, hydrogen and more), energy storage assets and built-in energy demand create an environment where Utah can lead the nation’s energy transition.
Air Quality Legislative Priorities
- We support the investments in multimodal transportation options — including enhanced public transit and regionally significant “active transportation” bike paths for commuting — to give Utah residents and workers alternatives to driving.
- We support targeted building standards that are more energy-efficient and improve air quality.
- We support research and technology that helps Utah achieve a low-carbon future by addressing both air quality and the changing climate as well as providing economic transition assistance to energy-dependent communities.
Energy Legislative Priorities
- We support an energy future that places Utah at the center of the nation’s energy transition. Utah possesses many advantages that will help it lead out on energy, environmental and economic progress including its diverse energy portfolio, wealth of mineral assets, strong state and local leadership, new energy projects already underway, innovative business culture and proper incentives. These advantages will help the state make progress toward a low-carbon energy future that will remain affordable, reliable and sustainable.
- We support continued efforts to maintain a balanced and diverse energy portfolio that provide for increased and sustainable access to the production of Utah’s various domestic energy resources.
- We support clean energy policies that foster economic growth through new and existing technologies.
- We support legislation and policy that help rural communities position themselves for success in a dynamic and ever-changing energy economy.
Water Legislative Priorities
- We support reasonable and cost-effective efforts to address critical infrastructure needs in response to shortages on the Colorado River. We support the protection of Utah’s Colorado River allotment and the state’s ability to effectively manage the water supply for future generations.
- We support water usage grants and incentives allowing for water systems to routinely discharge into the Great Salt Lake.
- We support turf buyback programs that enable water-saving measures across the State of Utah.
- We promote increased state and local investments in water infrastructure modernization to include seismic improvements to drinking water supply pipelines addressing the aging infrastructure.
- We support and encourage regional water planning and policy solutions focused on water conservation that align with industry and agricultural needs.
- We support the creation of a dedicated water funding source targeted to align with growth in order to meet current and future needs.
Health care consistently ranks among the top expenses for businesses and is disproportionately burdensome for small businesses. The Salt Lake Chamber has an interest in keeping health care costs low while keeping quality high. Additionally, Utah’s health sciences industry is continually expanding, and, if carefully cultivated, can be on the leading edge of providing affordable health care that rivals the best systems in the world.
- We advocate for a free market-based health care system that maximizes employers’ ability to offer affordable, high-value health care coverage to employees and their families.
- We support policies that increase the adoption of value-based and quality-focused programs.
- We support policies that fuel growth and sustainability in the health innovation industry, including medical technologies, biopharmaceuticals and diagnostics.
- We support adequate funding, reimbursement for Medicaid and other government-funded programs that provide quality and much-needed health care to Utah’s most vulnerable residents.
- We support health care workforce policies that tackle shortages across the industry and build a pipeline to meet the demands of
- Utahns for years to come.
- We support policies that promote equitable access to evidence-based behavioral health care services.
- We oppose government mandates on how employers, insurers or providers conduct their business or tailor their benefits.
Utah is facing a very real cost-of-living crisis and rapid growth that is challenging our premier business environment. Over the past several years, Utah’s existing housing shortage precipitated a perilous rise in housing costs. As the state’s population is expected to double in the next fifty years with the majority of the growth along the Wasatch Front, tackling this challenge and ensuring Utah is affordable is critical for employers, employees and our state’s economic vitality.
- We support the alignment of economic development incentives with housing development, infrastructure and growth needs.
- We support incentivizing housing near high-capacity transportation, jobs, public education system campuses, health care facilities and other destinations, including transit-oriented and mixed-use developments that make smart use of both public and private land and allow all residents the opportunity to live in walkable, accessible communities.
- We support creative solutions to develop new financial tools and tax policy that balance the financial burdens of municipalities, businesses and property owners and create a greater alignment of priorities among financial tools already offered by state agencies that promote smart growth.
- We support public and private housing initiatives and partnerships, including expansion of the down payment assistance plan and shared equity model to teachers and firefighters. We also support efforts to expand the Utah Housing Preservation Fund and other programs that promote housing preservation and rehabilitation of existing housing.
- We support additional funding for deeply affordable housing in conjunction with wraparound services to build on recent progress to better mitigate homelessness.
- We support mutually beneficial public-private partnerships and collaborations that facilitate and support these policy priorities and address the social determinants of health.
- We support the inclusion of housing and required regional planning for housing around significant growth projects such as the Point of the Mountain and Inland Port Authority.
- We support initiatives that provide ownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families.
Taxes & Regulation
Utah has been a beacon for businesses all over the world. Companies and individuals alike have flocked to our foothills and valleys to be a part of one of the most business-friendly economies in the world. Utah’s budget surplus, AAA Bond rating and reputation for being the best-managed state in the country create an environment where new businesses can thrive and existing ones can innovate.
- We support pro-business tax and fiscal policies that will attract new investments and encourage high-wage job growth in economic cluster-driven industries.
- We support governments exercising fiscal responsibility, including maintaining the appropriate reserves and maximizes the AAA bond rating.
- We oppose federal overreach and support local control. Businesses have already been making decisions that benefit the environment and build their communities without federal mandates. Therefore, we support businesses putting economic return at the heart of their decision-making processes.
- We support the continued implementation and uniformity of tax reductions that follow a fiscal model that is fair, sound and balanced and promotes job creation and economic vitality.
Transportation & Infrastructure
Infrastructure is the backbone of society; it connects people, businesses and ideas. With Utah being one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, it is more important than ever to have a comprehensive infrastructure strategy. Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan accounts for increased road, transit and trail use due to population growth. Utah also needs to focus on the increased demand for access to high-quality and reliable broadband. All of these factors are instrumental to maintaining the quality of life for all Utahns.
Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan
- We support planning, funding and building infrastructure ahead of and in anticipation of future growth.
- We support investments in seismically upgrading the four aqueducts that provide most of the culinary water to the Wasatch Front so that Utah is more resilient to a large earthquake.
- We promote and support the enhancement and expansion of Utah’s multimodal transportation system to accommodate future population growth and the needs of the private sector to move people and goods safely and efficiently.
- We support investment in an infrastructure fund to focus on accommodating the needs and challenges associated with rapid growth.
- We support long-term investments in active transportation via a statewide trail system that adds to the quality of life for Utahns for generations to come.
- We support additional federal and state investment in Utah’s transit system, including investment in priority projects such as the strategic doubletracking of FrontRunner and transit solutions at the Point of the Mountain.
The secret to much of Utah’s economic success can be attributed to our focus on small business growth and development. Nearly 90% of all Utah businesses are considered small businesses and make up the backbone of our economic success. Revitalizing our small businesses will be key to unlocking our future potential growth across the state. Many of these businesses serve customers and provide services outside the Wasatch Front, making our commitment to rural communities more important than ever. This means we must advocate for policy solutions that serve small business needs where they are at, and continue developing the necessary infrastructure to connect all communities.
- We support small business expansion and retention policies and incentives that enable small businesses along the Wasatch Front and in rural communities to hire, grow and prosper in Utah.
- We support infrastructure policy and legislation that allows small businesses the opportunity to deliver goods in a timely and streamlined manner.
- We support a thoughtful approach to the minimum wage based on economic data and market conditions.
- We support investments in small business resources across the state to help rural entrepreneurs thrive and to build a local economy.