Legislature Update: Senate approves incentive for Tech Summit, business licensing issues advance

Autumn F. Cook | Lehi Free Press

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A bill to provide incentive money to organizers of the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit has passed the Utah Senate and is waiting to be considered in the House. The bill, SB 146, sponsored by Senator Jake Anderegg (SD6), was amended on the Senate floor to cut the amount from the originally-proposed $1 million to $500,000. The vote was 18-9 in favor, with two absent or not voting.

“This is direct investment to help grow Silicon Slopes,” said Anderegg. “It’s narrowly crafted to promote out of state advertising.”  The bill requires recipients of the money to report to the state on how it is spent.

Anderegg acknowledged that some may not like the idea. “If you think government shouldn’t be doing anything to promote whatsoever, you’re not going to like this,” said Anderegg. “This is one instance where I feel like this isn’t a tax and spend, this is a tax and invest.”

The state of Utah formerly gave $2 million to the outdoor retailers conference which was held in Salt Lake City for many years. The organizers of that conference relocated their conference to Denver because of disagreement about Utah’s efforts to reclaim its own public lands. Anderegg pointed to the direct economic benefit that flows to the state with large conventions as a reason for running the bill.

He said that as chair of the of Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee, he was approached with many requests for business incentives, but only chose to run two of them. The second is a bill to provide tax incentives to motion picture production companies, which passed the Senate committee last Wednesday and is waiting to be heard on the floor.

Other bills sponsored by Anderegg and passed out of committee include SB 198, designed to address some issues with a Juvenile Justice bill passed last year, HB 239. Anderegg described this year’s bill as a “transparency data collection bill.”

A bill addressing municipal business licensing, SB 158, is designed to address some problems with the implementation of a bill from last year. “We’ve had some cities kind of go rogue trying to circumvent that law,” he said. The League of Cities and Towns has requested more time to implement the law and Anderegg is responding to that request with a substitute bill which will give them more time.

Representative Kay Christofferson (HD56) noted that the legislature received official budget numbers, with $778 million more than expected coming in. He said the House has determined to put $85 million of that into the “rainy day fund,” from which the legislature has borrowed over the past several years. He said the House is considering applying some of the rest of the surplus to cuts in the state income tax and a salary increase for teachers.

Christofferson also reported that he is putting his bill to eliminate tax incentive program through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) on hold until the interim session to work out some details with interested parties.

His bill to allow contractors with UDOT projects to deliver materials to work sites at night passed the House committee last Friday. The bill, HB 203, will allow those contractors to be exempt from local noise ordinances in certain cases in the same way UDOT is currently.

Representative Cory Maloy (HD 6) is working to make it easier for professionals who move here from out of state to establish their practices and businesses here. HB 173 allows the Department of Professional Licensing to issue licenses to individuals who have been previously licensed in another state, district, or territory of the United States. The bill has cleared the House last Wednesday and passed the Senate committee on Monday of this week.

Maloy’s bill to clarify Utah’s “Stand Your Ground” law, HB 129, passed the House on February 12 but was passed among a few different Senate committees and is still waiting to be heard by the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee.

Anderegg commented regarding his vote on a highly-publicized bill to give direction to judges on issuing a change of sex designation on birth certificates. The bill, SB 138, sponsored by Senator Todd Weiler (SD 23) drew attention because it would allow a person to change the sex designation on their birth certificate to correspond with that person’s “gender identity.”

Although he agrees with the general need for a bill to give clear to direction to judges on how to handle requests for legal changes to birth certificates, Anderegg voted against SB 138, which he said was too permissive. “This is an issue we need to resolve,” he said. “We need to provide direction on this.”

The last day of the Utah legislative session is next Thursday, March 8.

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