Category: Blog Post

Paying Tribute

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. serves as a tribute to honor the brave members of the U.S. Armed Forces who fought in the Vietnam War and were killed or missing in action.

It is now possible for individuals to pay their respects with a visit to a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Davis County. The replica is 80 percent of the original size of the monument in our nation’s capital and is the only one of its size west of the Mississippi, according to the Utah Vietnam Veterans of America.

The Wall displays the names of the more than 58,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country during the Vietnam War, including  361 Utahns who gave their lives.

Its purpose is to honor the courage and sacrifice of those who answered the call to serve.

“It was a tremendous privilege to work with the Utah Vietnam Veterans’ Association to secure a little funding in order to complete the replica wall in Layton’s Commons Park,” said Rep. Steve Handy, who helped secure funding to build the memorial in Utah. “The dedication ceremony was moving and already it has become a quiet place of honor and reflection. It’s only right and fitting that we should honor these men and women who gave their last full measure in defense of our country so long ago. I’m very pleased to have had a little part in the success of this project.”

The monument is free and open to the public at Layton Commons Park, 437 N Wasatch Dr. Layton, UT 84041

News Stories:

Replica of Vietnam Memorial wall now in Layton, Utah

‘We’re kind of bringing them home’: Volunteers put final touches on Layton’s new Vietnam Memorial replica

New monument to Vietnam Veterans opened to the public in Layton

https://kutv.com/news/local/new-monument-to-vietnam-veterans-open-to-the-public-in-layton

Vietnam Wall: Replica dedicated in Layton Commons Park

Special Session Recap – July 2018

The governor issued a call for a special session to be held in conjunction with July interim day in order to make some technical fixes to existing bills and provided tax relief for Utah families. Highlights of the bills are below.

Dependent Tax Exemption for Utah Working Families

Now that the impacts of federal tax reform are better understood,  the Utah Legislature was able to find a way to lessen the tax burden for some Utahns with dependents. The Legislature passed HB 2003, Income Tax Code Amendments, which designates that $30 million in new money be used to fund a state dependent tax exemption for working families with children, as this population was most impacted by the loss of the personal exemption at the federal level.

It also conforms provisions of the Utah tax code dealing with loss carry backs and carry forwards to federal tax law. These amendments give companies a longer time period to carry forward net operating losses.

Tax Amendments

Federal tax reform included a new, reduced tax on repatriated foreign earnings, payable over eight years. This new lower rate only applies for tax years beginning prior to January 1, 2018. In order for Utah state law to conform to the new federal law, it became necessary to clarify some issues, including that the same date provisions apply for state tax purposes.

Online Sales Tax

When online sellers do not collect sales tax, the responsibility falls on the consumer to pay the use tax when filing. However, the process can be confusing and time consuming, and only approximately 1.3 percent of returns filed in Utah include a use tax return.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court, handed down an opinion in South Dakota v Wayfair, permitting states to require the collection of sales tax on remote purchases by sellers engaged in over 200 transactions or $100,000 worth of business within a state.

The Legislature passed SB 2001, Online Sales Tax Amendments to conform and align state statutes with the SCOTUS decision and to implement start date of January 1, 2019.

This new law eliminates the tedious process of calculating the amount of sales tax owed when filing Utah state income taxes.

Additionally, the Wayfair decision is projected to lead to a $60 million annual increase in state sales tax.  That new money will be used to fund the manufacturer 3-year life, which enables all manufacturers to depreciate new equipment over a three-year period.


Inland Port

HB 2001, Utah Inland Port Authority Amendment, is a result of weeks of open and candid dialogue with stakeholders, including the Salt Lake City Council, to strengthen and improve provisions enacted by SB 234, Utah Inland Port Authority, which passed during the 2018 session.

HB 2001 clarifies the strategies, policies and objectives of the Inland Port Authority, establishes clearer procedures and increases transparency.

Highlights of the bill:

Overview

  • Ensures that municipalities within the authority will provide services and be allocated a tax increment
  • Places a 2 percent cap on property tax to be used for the authority’s operating expenses
  • Encourages the Inland Port board to work with neighboring communities to develop plans to mitigate potential environmental impacts
  • Respects existing land use and other agreements/arrangements between property owners and government authorities

Appeals

  • Will first be considered by the municipality
  • Require a public hearing
  • Specifies that the Inland Port Authority board is an appeals board of last resort

Boundary Adjustments

  • Reduces the overall size of the jurisdictional land
  • Removes wetlands
  • Removes developed areas in the south east
  • Removes farmland in the northeast corner
  • Removes the airport, including all land they currently own

Environmental Concerns

  • Ensures that environmental sustainability policies and best practices meet or exceed applicable state and federal standards
  • Requires monitoring and emissions reporting, and strategies to utilize the best available technology systems to mitigate environmental impact
  • Requires the port authority annual report to include a sustainability plan on regulated emissions and efforts made by the authority to achieve compliance with applicable regulations

Governance

  • Permits the authority to appoint non-voting members and advisory councils from various organizations and entities
  • Sets in statute the inclusion of the SLC council member whose district includes the Salt Lake International Airport
  • Clarifies conflict language for employees or board members
  • Exempts statutorily required board members from conflict issues beyond their control, while still requiring transparency and public disclosure of circumstances that would have otherwise precluded them from serving

The bill also includes a provision that designates 10 percent of the property tax increment to be dedicated to affordable housing.

The amendments were supported by Governor Gary Herbert, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Salt Lake City Council, West Valley City, Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office, Utah League of Cities and Towns, World Trade Center Utah and the Salt Lake Chamber, , in addition to receiving unanimous support from the Salt Lake City Council. The bill passed the House on a vote of 62-5 and Senate, 22-2.


Water

HB 2005, Drinking Water Source Sizing Requirements, corrects a clerical error. HB 303, Drinking Water Source Sizing Requirements, unanimously passed the House and Senate during the 2018 session, but the signed bill did not include an amendment that passed both chambers.

HB 2005 amends definitions and the authorities of the Drinking Water Board, requires specific public water systems to provide data for water use and the director of the Division of Drinking Water to establish water source requirements for certain public water systems.

Damages

An ambiguity in statute when calculating settlement payments against government entities was recently identified, and SB 2005, Calculating New Damages Limits For Personal Injury Cases, clarifies the formula and aligns it to the consumer price index.

Beer Licenses

A business that sells beer for off-premise consumption, like grocery and convenience stores, must receive a city business license before applying for a license to sell beer. An inadvertent oversight occurred when the legislature passed comprehensive alcohol legislation during the 2018 session that could have businesses waiting six or more weeks after opening before obtaining a license to sell beer for consumption off-premises.

SB 2003, Off-premise Beer Retailer Licensing Amendments, corrects this oversight by permitting Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue conditional licenses for off-premise beer retailers. The bill provides clarification of the intent of the original law.

Procurement Code

Utah Communications Authority (UCA) is currently subject to the procurement code, though they are not included on the list of procurement units. UCA recently noticed this error and requested that the Legislature add them in order to avoid confusion. HB 2004, Utah Communications Authority – Procurement, simply amends the procurement code to include UCA.

Roads

SB 2004, Class B and Class C Road Fund Amendments, makes adjustments to the road funding formula to not disadvantage smaller counties, where minor population fluctuations could greatly impact funding. A similar bill, HB 314, Class B and Class C Road Funds Amendments, passed the Utah Senate during the 2018 General Session but did not make it back to the House in time for concurrence before the session ended.

July 2018 Legislative Calendar

Stay in the know about what is happening at the Utah State Legislature.  Here is a list of July’s meetings. Click the committee to see the agenda, meeting materials and listen to live and past audio* of meetings.

On July 16, 2018, Governor Gary Herbert issued a call for a special session to be held on Wednesday, July 18 at 2:30 p.m. Because of this, some committee times were adjusted. See the proclamation here.

Monday, July 9
1:00 p.m. – Criminal Code Evaluation Task Force 


Tuesday, July 10
10:00 a.m. – Veterans and Military Affairs Commission 


Wednesday, July 11
1:00 p.m. – Health Reform Task Force


Thursday, July 12
8:30 a.m. – Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee


Monday, July 16
8:30 a.m. – Transportation and Tax Review Task Force


Tuesday, July 17
9:30 a.m. – Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Committee

1:00 p.m. – Legislative Management Committee

1:30 p.m. – Executive Appropriations Committee

2:00 p.m. – Administrative Rules Review Committee – Canceled

3:30 p.m. – Legislative Audit Subcommittee

3:30 p.m. – Legislative Water Development Commission


Wednesday, July 18

7:30 a.m. – Victim Advocate Confidentiality Task Force

7:40 a.m. –  Natural Resources, Agriculture, & Environment Interim Committee

8:00 a.m. – Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee

8:00 a.m. – Judiciary Interim Committee

8:00 a.m. – Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee

8:30 a.m. – Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee

8:30 a.m. – Transportation Interim Committee

10:30 a.m.. – Business and Labor Interim Committee

10:30 a.m. – Education Interim Committee

10:30 a.m. – Government Operations Interim Committee

10:30 a.m. – Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

10:30 a.m. – Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Interim Committee

10:30 a.m. – Health and Human Services Interim Committee

10:30 a.m – Government Operations Interim Committee

2:30 p.m.  – Special Session


Thursday, July 19
8:30 a.m. – Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands – canceled 

*Not all meetings are streamed online.

Times may change see the most up to date list here.

 

Utah Honor Flight

Veterans are some of our nation’s greatest heroes. They served during times of war, not knowing if they would ever return. An immeasurable debt is owed to those who served in harm’s way to defend the freedoms we enjoy today. We have a responsibility to show gratitude to our nation’s veterans.

Members of the Utah House of Representatives raised over $13,000 of their own money for the Utah Honor Flight program, which sends veterans to our nation’s capital to tour war memorials built in memory of their service. The trip for some veterans may be the only opportunity to visit the memorials as well as pay their respects to friends lost in combat. Veterans who participate in the Honor Flight program do so at no cost to them.

Rep. Carl Albrecht invited the Utah Honor Flight Chairman Mike Turner and a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran Ron Thorn to visit the majority caucus to share information about the program during the 2018 session.

Each year, the Utah Honor Flight program sends veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials dedicated to the conflicts they fought in. Including the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial at the National Mall.

“Sending servicemen and women to D.C. to visit their memorials is a great cause,” said Rep. Albrecht. “It’s the least we can do to honor the sacrifice they have given to our country to preserve our freedoms.”

The money raised was given to Turner.

Thank you to all veterans for serving our country and protecting our freedoms. We are grateful for your service, sacrifice and dedication.

Learn more about the program here.

 

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, we are reminded of the great sacrifices made throughout the history of our nation that have allowed us to live in freedom. This blessing is granted through the sacrifices of those who have served with honor and devotion. Thank you to the brave men and women for their services defending our nation.

SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments

During the recent session, the Utah Legislature passed SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments. The purpose of the bill was to reform the governance of Utah Transit Authority (UTA), provide tools for local governments to support the rising demand for multimodal transportation, improve checks and balances, and increase transparency. It also included a rebranding component. Though no money was appropriated to rebrand, due to confusion and misinformation, bill sponsors requested that the agency not proceed with that aspect of the bill.

UTA has been recognized across the country as one of the best models to emulate; however, issues of transparency and trust have overshadowed much of the good work that they’ve done. Last year, the Legislature formed the Transportation Governance and Funding Task Force to investigate potential changes to the governance and funding of UTA. Since May of 2017, the task force has met and during the 2018 legislative session, put forward well-researched solutions for the future of the agency.

The passage of SB 136 will allow UTA to operate with better structure and greater accountability and efficiency, which will benefit everyone. Putting the name change aside ensures that the focus remain on the other, more important aspects of the legislation.

UTA should now work just as hard on promoting the successes of their agency as they have on creating a false narrative related to the costs of the name change.

The Legislature will work with the new UTA board once it is in place in November to decide the best path forward.

Read highlights of SB 136 here.

 

 

Transportation Reform

Utah’s population is expected to double within the next 50 years and we will need to continue to plan and prepare for this future growth. Utah is recognized nationwide for its innovative transportation systems and collaboration. SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments, restructures the governance of the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), enhances the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), creates a new fund for transportation and transit and modifies some of the funding sources.

Highlights of SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments

 UTA Governance

  • Creates a three-member full-time board of trustees that will oversee the agency.
  • Board members will be nominated by counties, appointed by the governor with consent from the Senate:
    • Salt Lake County – 1
    • Utah county with Tooele County – 1
    • Davis County and Weber County with Box Elder County – 1
  • Board members will serve three year, staggered terms that will be at-will, under the governor.
  • Creates a nine-member advisory board.
  • Must have approval from State Bonding Authority before issuance of any new bonds.
  • Requires the State Attorney General’s Office to provide legal counsel.

UDOT Governance

  • Restructures UDOT to accommodate an increased role in multimodal planning and capital development.
  • Creates a Planning and Investment Division.

Investment Fund

  • Creates a structure to form future Transit Transportation Investment Funds (TTIF), which will require at least 40 percent non-state funding.
  • Permits political subdivisions to create Transportation Reinvestment Zones to capture increases in property taxes around transportation infrastructure improvements.

Fair Share

  • As more people have switched from traditional vehicles to electric and hybrid, the gas tax has lagged behind.
  • SB 136 implements a three-year phase-in of fees for these vehicles. The purpose is to start working towards every driver paying a fair share for the use of the roads.

Provides Local Governments with Key Tools

  • Expands and clarifies counties’ authority to implement a local sales tax option of .20% for public transit after July 1, 2019.

Restructures State Transportation Planning

  • Directs UDOT to develop statewide strategic initiatives for planning and coordinating multimodal transportation.

 

What is an interim?

During the 45-day general session, many items that do not make it through committee are put on a master study list. The committee chairs then prioritize what should be studied over the interim period based on this list and input from committee members.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senate President and committee chairs meet to collectively determine the final list. The Legislative Management Committee then votes to adopt interim study items and the schedule for the year. Due to the limited number of meetings, committees focus on those issues that are a top priority to help ensure a proper vetting.

Interim committees then study the identified key issues facing the state. They listen to expert and public testimony to determine whether or not to recommend legislation, and they vote to prioritize particular bills for the upcoming general session and occasionally for future special sessions.

Unlike during the general session, when the Senate and House each have standing committees comprised of only their own members, interim committees are made up of both senators and representatives.

These meetings are held throughout the year, generally the third Wednesday of the month, and are open to the public, can be streamed live or listened to at a later date at le.utah.gov.

See the list of potential 2018 interim study items here. A list of committees and schedules can be found here.

 

New Nation Letter Writing Competition

The Utah Legislature and the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts teamed up to give high school students an opportunity to see the Broadway hit Hamilton: An American Musical through the New Nation Letter Writing Competition

High school students from across the state wrote an essay about an issue of concern in their community, along with a proposed solution, for a chance to see the musical with their representative here in Salt Lake. The purpose was to encourage students to become engaged in the civic process, know who represents them and discover their own passion, using that to find a way to make a positive impact in their local community.

Watch the video about the project here.

Unclaimed Money

The Utah State Treasurer’s Office recently announced that Utahns have more than $38 million in property waiting to be claimed. The Utah Unclaimed Property Division receives lost property from various sources, such as dormant bank accounts, uncollected insurance payouts and stock certificates. Visit mycash.utah.gov, the official government website that manages and returns unclaimed property, to see if you have any unclaimed money.