The Utah State Legislature (made up of 104 part-time lawmakers) recently concluded its 45 day general session, in which 535 pieces of legislation were passed. In this alert, Michael Best Strategies (Strategies) Senior Advisor Ross Romero provides an overview of significant points to consider from this session.
Where did all of the money go?
In summary, the state spent just over $16 billion. Here is where some of that money went:
- Approximately $250 million in new money will be spent on public education. As Utah has been one of the fastest growing states in the country for the past six years, $68 million will go to funding continuing new growth.
- The Utah State Prison relocation received an additional $100 million, bringing the prison’s total allocation to $650 million.
- The state will bond $1 billion for roads and infrastructure and $300 million for state building projects.
Some additional bills affecting business interest passed by the legislature include:
- The legislature rejected revisions to Utah’s current non-compete laws, did away with safety inspections for automobiles, and rejected a proposal to incrementally increase the minimum wage to $15/hour.
- The body agreed to study air quality issues and incentivize Utah’s refiners to reduce emissions and required agencies to conduct an analysis in advance of new administrative rules on how those rules would impact Utah’s businesses and residents.
- The legislature now requires (in certain circumstances) for assets taken by Civil Asset Forfeiture to be returned when the claimant is acquitted of the offense, giving rise to the forfeiture. It also clarified ownership of shares in a water company are transferrable, are proportionate to the shareholder’s shares, and provided guidance on the process for distribution to a shareholder.
What lies ahead this summer and next year:
- The governor, along with the legislature, will research and take up tax reform issues in advance of next year’s session.
- We will likely see discussions on the legalization of medical cannabis and non-partisan redistricting, since both are supported by a majority of Utah voters.
- A task force will study the future of transportation, as the state has been projected to grow by 1 million to 2.5 million new Utahns by 2050. This growth is also why the state spends so much on public education and its growth.
- Additional study and potential legislation involving Utah’s non-compete laws.