Friday, February 09, 2007

Weekly Legislative Update (Week 4)


Outside of the much publicized Soccer/TRT Tax Discussion there is not much to say in terms of a weekly tax update. Things are somewhat on hold as we await the framework of the battle between the Senate and House. The primary issue will center on the size of any proposed tax cut. The next issue will be the composition of that cut. - sales and/or income tax. As we stated last week - the primary sales tax vehicle is the elimination of food from the specialty taxes. The ULCT has taken a position to oppose this legislation - HB 282 and we have requested assistance in conveying that message to the Senate.

Regarding telecommunications issues. This week the Telco rate cap legislation moved out of committee with a rate cap of 3.5% which is down from 4%. This issue continues to be part of ongoing discussions about regulatory/franchise issues between the cities and various cable providers.

In terms of ULCT issues, land-use has consumed much of the week. The debate on Morley's HB-233 and Tilton's HB-334 has changed venues and several local government leaders are contacting their representatives on this issue. The bills are still pretty far down the reading list for the House, and will likely be heard next week. If you have not had a chance to learn about these bills, please see some of the previous posts where we highlight the ills of both pieces of legislation.

On a more positive note, Senator Bell's consensus based SB-215 Land Use Amendments Bill has also started to move. This bill address several issues that were raised during the interim by the League and several members of the development community. The bill essentially expedites the land-use appeal process in some circumstances and also institutes the notion of "fundamental fairness" into the Utah land use process. This bill should move fairly quickly through Senate -- and we will keep you posted on the progress.

It has also been a slow week for much of the transportation discussions. With most of the transportation funding debate tied into the tax issues and the relative size of the tax cut, this issue will likely take shape as soon as the budget/tax cut discussion get underway. It will be another week or so for this issue. There have, however, been a few anti-UTA bills introduces this week to include HB-166. This is the bill that would take UTA and put them under the control of the Department of Transportation. With it getting fairly late in the session this bill may have a tough time, it will just depend on the tenor of leadership toward the largest Transit District in Utah. We keep you posted as this one moves along.

As you can probably see, the "hurry up and wait" game is well underway. The session is certainly beginning to take shape, but there is still a lot to be done in every major policy area. Please check back often for a status of these and other important issues.

Enjoy the weekend.