The 2019 Utah Legislative session came to a close at midnight on March 14th, but many were left wondering what would be done about the states controversial effort to tax services. House Bill 441, also know as the Tax Equalization and Reduction Act, would seek to marginally lower Income and State Sales Taxes while extending broad new taxes almost exclusively to businesses in the service industry. This bill also faced strong opposition from the public education sector with the fear surrounding the loss of funding for public schools. By the end of session this bill failed to gain the needed support, however it is expected to be reintroduced in a special summer session, where we will keep members informed.
In addition to the tax reform bill the Utah Legislature faced a series of social and environmental issues that will affect all Utahns. The big issues were creation of hate crime legislation, banning and restrictions on abortion, accepting and destroying previously banned radioactive waste, the continuation of conversion therapy as practiced on minors, and the introduction of beer with a higher alcohol content of 4.8%. On the lighter side, Utah now has a state reptile in the Gila Monster, as advocated for by a group of seventh graders at Lava Ridge Intermediate School. The Utah legislature unanimously passed the bill making the Gila Monster the state reptile while HB 292, legislation for a new state flag, failed to gain traction.
While the UMCA steered clear of those bills, we worked on the hill and stayed very busy this session with the 19 different issues that directly effect UMCA members. We supported 11 bills that passed and opposed 2 bills that failed. We remain neutral on 7 bills that saw success and defeat. Given the numerous issues that were faced this session, we can anticipate a busy summer working on a number of issues in the interim committees. To stay up to date on the latest legislation and the details that affect you, read the UMCA bill tracker. If you have any questions or concerns please contact Robert Bergman in the UMCA office at (801)364-7768 or email firstname.lastname@example.org