When our former Representative, Keith Grover, resigned his seat in early June to fill the vacancy in the Senate left by Margaret Dayton’s resignation, House District 61 was left without a representative in the Utah House for a few weeks. After the primary election, a special election was held, and I was selected (easy selection because I was the only one who signed up 😊) to fill the remainder of Keith Grover’s term, which ends in January. (I am still running to represent you for the following two years and will be on the ballot in November.)
As your Representative, I would like to give you a report on what I have done so far. I was sworn in on Wednesday, July 18th, at 7:30am so that I could participate in the interim committee meetings that started at 7:45am and the special legislative session that was being held later that day. Because I had to jump right in, I was so grateful for my previous experiences, including those at the legislature, in the Republican party, and on the school board. Everyone was very kind and took time to ask if I had any questions. Enough about me; let’s get to the special session!
A special session is held if an issue is pressing and needs to be resolved before the regular session, or if legislation that was passed in the regular session needs clarification or to be amended ASAP. Because I came late to the party, I didn’t have as much background information as I would have liked, but I think I understood most items fairly well. Something I didn’t know is that if you are there, you must vote. You cannot plead ignorance, newness, or anything else. Here is the list of the bills we discussed and voted on.
HB 2001 Inland Port Authority Amendments Yeas 62; Nays 5. I voted yea.
I was not in favor of SB 234—Inland Port Authority, which passed in the final days of the regular session for several reasons: 1. I didn’t like that it was a last minute, complex bill that legislators didn’t have time to really discuss; 2. The process and final version of the bill made it seem like the state was being a bully that took what it wanted from a less powerful entity (SLC) just because the state was annoyed; and 3. There was no consideration given in SB 234 to SLC or any other entity that depends on property taxes (schools, libraries, etc.) —the state was the only beneficiary of any and all tax revenue.
During Caucus meeting before the Special Session, we went over the bills that were to be voted on. Some of my concerns were addressed in the amended version of the bill, HB 2001, and I asked about provisions for the tax revenue to be shared (there were none in the bill). Even though I wasn’t completely satisfied with HB 2001, I decided to vote yes because the changes made it a lot better than SB 234, and, if the new version didn’t pass, the old, un-amended version would stay law, and I did not want that.
On the floor, there were further assurances that the tax revenue would be shared, and an amendment was introduced and passed that stated that “the board shall meet with taxing entities to review and reassess, as provided in Subsection (9)(a): (i) before December 31, 2020; and (ii) at least every other year after 2020.” This amendment made me feel more confident that the other taxing entities would be a part of the process and benefit from this port being in their city. A newspaper article about the changes made in HB 2001 can be found here.
SB 2001 Online Sales Tax Amendments—yeas 67; nays 3. I voted yea
Our vote modified this statute to establish collection and trigger dates to conform with the opinion of the United State Supreme Court. Since the Dakota vs. Wayfair decision in 2008, a start date had been recommended by an interim committee for collection of online sales tax, but a question existed regarding whether an interim committee can bind the Legislature. To avoid any potential legal challenges, the Legislature put the start date into the actual statute. This bill also clarifies the provisions of SB 233 (2018 General Session) dealing with the commencement provisions – trigger date – of the Manufacturing Exemption from Sales Tax described in that bill.
HB 2002 Repatriation Tax Amendments— Yeas 65; Nays 5. I voted yea
These changes clarified some issues relating to corporate income tax on deferred foreign income, which were not adequately spelled out in 2018 legislation. From what I understand, these changes will lower taxpayers’ liability while still capturing the tax on foreign earnings held abroad by enacting a 50% deduction and will conform to federal code by allowing payments to be spread out over eight years.
SB 2005 Calculating New Damage Limits for Personal Injury Cases Yeas 66; Nays 3. I voted yea
The main point of this change was to adjust the formula for damage caps in lawsuits against government entities to remove ambiguity and to align increases to the consumer price index.
SB 2003 Off-Premise Beer Retailer Licensing Amendments Yeas 69; nays 0. I voted yea.
This change restored the UDAC’s (Utah Department of Alcohol Control) ability to issue conditional licenses for off-premise beer retailers that was unintentionally removed during the 2018 General Session. Like it sounds, off-premise beer retailers sell beer that will be consumed somewhere other than where it is bought. It takes up to 9 months to receive a permit to sell alcohol; a conditional license allows a retailer to sell beer while they are waiting for their permit.
SB 2004 Class B and Class C Road Fund Amendments yeas 69; nays 0. I voted yea
This bill passed the Senate but did not make it back to the House before the session ended. It adjusts the hold harmless formula for smaller counties. This bill guarantees a base funding amount for small counties, which is vital to keep Utah’s less populated counties economically viable and supported.
HB 2003 Income Tax Code Amendments Yeas 67; Nays 3. I voted yea.
Because of changes in the Federal Tax Code, many of Utah’s middle-class families will have to pay higher taxes. The changes made to HB 2003 will help mitigate some of this impact by increasing the Utah personal exemption.
HB 2005 Drinking Water Source Sizing Requirements Yeas 70; nays 0. I voted yea
This bill passed the House and the Senate by unanimous vote in the regular session, but the version that was signed by the governor didn’t include an amendment that was passed. We had to pass the legislation again so that the governor could sign the right version.
HB 2004 Utah Communications Authority—Procurement Yeas 67; Nays 3. I voted yea.
This change to the procurement code added the Utah Communications Authority to the list of procurement units. Prior to this, the UCA was subject to the procurement code but was not included in the list of procurement units.
I loved being a part of this legislative process! It is an honor to represent House District 61. As always, if you ever have any questions or comments for me, please let me know!