Week 7 Updates: March 6 - March 9
Dear Business Community, 
After 45 days, we're excited to share that Utah's 2017 General Legislative session is in the books. This session has been tremendous for Utah's business community. While there is still work to be done, we cannot help but applaud the Legislature.
We also sincerely appreciate all of your efforts this session as business leaders.  Without your engagement, our accomplishments would not have been possible. The Chamber had more than a dozen priorities, supported 76 bills, opposed 10 bills and had more than 250 bills on our watch lists. This means we have a lot of information to share about the impact of this session on your business and our community.
As such, we are planning two Legislative Recaps on:
March 15, 2-3 PM at the Salt Lake Chamber  REGISTER HERE
March 30, 2-3 PM at the Salt Lake Chamber  REGISTER HERE
In the meantime, here are some brief highlights of the session:
Unfinished Business:  Legislators were unable to close the gap on tax reform this session. However, the Governor, Senate President and Speaker of the House have each committed to working on this effort during the interim with plans to address the issue of tax reform in the 2018 General Legislative Session. We look forward to working with them in this undertaking.
Solid Foundation:  While there are still significant needs, we are encouraged that the Legislature committed more than 80 percent of new revenue to education. Utah lawmakers approved nearly $240 million in new money for public education, including $68 million for growth and a 4 percent increase in the value of the weighted pupil unit. This provides a solid foundation for the year ahead and a discussion on how we continue to enhance our funding effort in education for Utah's children.
This funding is in addition to critical legislative efforts that align with our  Prosperity Through Education plan  goals of improving student achievement, including:
  • Expanding optional all-day kindergarten;
  • A new computing pathways program to train talent for Utah's Silicon Slopes;
  • Performance funding for higher education tied to job creation, and;
  • A $5,000 bonus to top-performing teachers working in high-poverty schools.
This bodes well for Utah's future and the employers demanding a highly-qualified workforce.
Signature Win: After the great leadership of Rep. Wilson and Sen. Hemmert, the Legislature has now partnered with Governor Herbert for the most extensive overhaul of regulatory policy in state history. Specifically,  H.B. 272  helps legislators make better-informed decisions, produce smarter regulation and enhance transparency.
Exceeded Expectations:  The Legislature took significant steps to keep Utah moving with a $1 billion bond, modifications to the gas-tax to match the intent of 2015 and keep pace with inflation, and a new policy task force to study the future of transportation in our state.
Common Ground:  Alleviating the concerns of many, the Legislature decided to both defeat non-compete legislation and withhold further legislative action this session. This came on the heels of the comprehensive non-compete research results to inform decision making on the issue during the interim period.
Thanks to an immense effort, Rep. Wilson, and Sen. Stevenson found a reasonable compromise to modernize Utah's alcohol laws. As the business community, we support the regulation of alcohol that satisfies public demand, ensures public safety, discourages underage drinking, and cultivates a welcoming and hospitable climate for tourism and business recruitment efforts.
This review of existing alcohol regulation made changes to retail licensing, an increase in markup on alcoholic beverages, electronic age verification requirements and provisions for removal of a bar structure. It also made significant strides to improve education for minors and enhancements for public safety. The bill sponsors have also agreed to a continued dialogue on this issue to address any unintended consequences if they arise.

Defended Small Business:  The Chamber represents small businesses at every turn, fighting against over regulation, promoting good government while also preventing intrusive government involvement in business operations. The majority of bills we opposed this session would have made it more difficult for small businesses to remain the lifeblood of our economic success and be the provider of hundreds of thousands of jobs for Utah families. This included:
  • Stopping an expansion of FMLA requirements to smaller employers with a commitment to consider alternative options in the interim.
  • Defeating a proposal to hike the minimum wage incrementally to $15 an hour. In fact, legislative analysts estimated this would cost our economy 93,558 jobs and $11.9 billion in Gross-State-Product.
Breath of Fresh Air: Significantly improving Utah's air quality realistically comes down to thousands of personal decisions by Utah residents and businesses. This does not preclude legislative action, but it does make their impact often limited or draconian. Nonetheless, two air quality bills advanced that have the potential to significantly improve Utah's air quality. 
A new air quality policy board, championed by Rep. Hawkes, will include members of the private sector and seek to use real scientific data on the cost and benefit of specific policy choices to drive consensus. Additionally, Sen. Adams advanced a new clean fuels incentive for Utah's refineries that has the potential to reduce emissions by 7-11 percent immediately, according to the Utah Division of Air Quality.

Taking Care of the Poorest Amongst Us: The Legislature fully embraced addressing homelessness and affordable housing as a state issue. Legislators advanced a bill that addresses the state's $20 million contribution toward new homeless resource centers, specifically for two in Salt Lake City and a third in a yet-to-be-decided location in Salt Lake County. The bill also included a firm date that the Salt Lake Road Home shelter will close by June 30, 2019.
The Legislature also approved Rep. Edwards' H.B. 36, which will allocate nearly $7 million in tax credits over 10 years to affordable housing projects, in addition to $2 million for a new investment fund to convert existing projects into affordable housing. We applaud these efforts and appreciate the collaboration of all those involved.
Again, there are dozens of business issues to discuss and we hope you will join us for our two Legislative Recaps on:
March 15, 2-3 PM at the Salt Lake Chamber  REGISTER HERE
March 30, 2-3 PM at the Salt Lake Chamber  REGISTER HERE
Thanks for your support,
Salt Lake Chamber Policy Team
Priority Votes 

During the legislative session, the Salt Lake Chamber Executive Board 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. 

Click "View Full List of Priority Votes" to view bill status and bill description on our internal bill dashboard. 

Most Recent Priority Votes:

Bill Number 
Bill Title 
Kindergarten Supplemental Enrichment Program
Rep. Snow
Transportation Funding Modifications
Sen. Van Tassell
Public-Private Partnerships
Sen. Okerlund
Sales Tax Collection Amendments
Sen. Bramble
Air Quality Policy Advisory Board
Rep. Hawkes

Bills Worth Watching

Each week, the Chamber's policy team tracks relevant bills by subject so you can stay up to date on legislation that impacts you and your business.

We encourage you to click on the sections below to view bill descriptions and status updates via the Chamber's internal bill dashboard.

2016-17 Non-Compete Study Results

Last session the Utah Legislature passed  H.B. 251, statutorily limiting the effect of employer-employee, non-compete agreements to a one-year period following separation, and changing provisions related to legal remedies. During the debate and since that time, it has become evident that we need better information around this complex issue. Additionally, significant concern from the business community across the state has prompted a push for further research into how Utah employers are affected by this new legislation, how employer-employee non-compete agreements are used in our state, and whether additional revisions of the law are warranted, unnecessary or would be supported.

In stakeholder discussions and negotiations, the concept for a balanced and fair research study became obvious. In order to conduct this research, the Salt Lake Chamber worked with the Utah Legislature, the Labor and Employment Section of the Utah State Bar, industry associations, and chambers across the state for a comprehensive, fair, and impartial study of employer and employee perspectives on this issue. This study,  conducted by Cicero, has sought to identify what the key issues concerning non-compete agreements are to better inform policymakers and business leaders.

In the News  
Policy Events 
Cybersecurity Conference

The Salt Lake Chamber is co-hosting a National Cybersecurity Conference with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 from 7:30am-1:30 pm at Marriott University Park. 

Register  Here
To see th e business community's other legislative prioritie s, visit sl chamber.com  
A b by Osborne
Director of Government Relations
801-831- 6116
M ichael Parker
Director of Public Policy