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2019 Utah legislative session wrap-up

"Sine die": adverb

  1. (with reference to business or proceedings that have been adjourned) with no appointed date for resumption.

The 2019 Utah Legislative Session ended "sine die" at 11:59 on Thursday, March 14th.

In other words, that's a wrap!


PEER-TO-PEER ECONOMY:

HB354, Substitute 2: Business Regulation Amendments
FAILED.
Prohibits regulation of a peer-to-peer company or a peer-to-peer seller. It prohibits a city from regulating an incidental commercial activity at an airport as a permits a city to establish a fee for an incidental commercial activity under certain circumstances. Any tax owed as part of a peer-to-peer transaction is the obligation of the individuals who agreed to exchange the product or service and not the peer-to-peer company.

SB190: Rental Car Amendments
FAILED.
SB0190  Facilitates peer to peer car rental companies with less than 3 automobiles, but requires similar regulation and insurance coverage as traditional car rental companies.  Car rental companies are working with Sen. Bramble and the Salt Lake Airport on a next version of this bill.

TAXES:
HB 266: Resort Communities Transient Room Tax Amendments

PASSED.
HB 266 1st Substitute allows a county that has a National Park and a “Resort Town” (resort city with less than 1,000 residents) to use a portion of the county's transient room tax to pay for emergency medical services in the resort town.

This bill is designed to help the Town of Springdale. Rural counties have been allowed to use some of their TRT for EMS services for many years. The increased visitation to Zion National Park has increased the demand for EMS services in Springdale and surrounding towns. Speaker Wilson has not been supportive of broad TRT changes this year, but is supportive of HB266.

HB382: Resort Communities Tax Amendments
PASSED.
HB0382  increases the number of notices that the State Tax Commission must send to a municipality that no longer qualifies to impose a resort communities tax; modifies the time frame for when a municipality that no longer qualifies to impose the resort communities tax must stop imposing the tax.  This is a tax commission process clean-up bill.

HB441, Substitute 1: Tax Equalization and Reduction Act
FAILED.
TO BE DISCUSSED IN SUMMER TAX REFORM TASK FORCE AND SPECIAL SESSION AFTER SEPTEMBER.


With strong public concern and opposition to the bill details, Rep. Quinn, House and Senate Leadership and Governor announced Thursday they would not pursue tax reform this session.  Rather they will hold a special legislative session this Spring/Summer after a more research on consequences to major tax reform.  Rep. Quinn and leaders are committed to modernizing Utah’s tax system to reflect a 21st century economy.  We appreciate Rep. Quinn and legislative leaders listening to our council and being committed to a strong economy that can help cover the costs of government provided services.
This bill would impose sales tax on many services and reduce the sales tax rate and income tax rate.  The stated purpose is to stabilize the general fund by broadening the tax base to reflect the increased service economy.

Many tourism services have been subject to sales tax for years:  Hotel rooms, laundry, ski lift tickets, etc. 

This bill would also remove 15 sales tax exemptions.  Two benefit the ski industry: sales tax on electricity for running lifts and snowmaking and an exemption for major equipment purchases. Our lobby team is working to maintain the ski business input sales tax exemptions.  Tax policy:  Don’t tax business inputs; tax the outputs.  Sales tax is embedded in every seasons pass and day pass that is purchased in Utah.

This bill would also impose a sales tax on water purchases, similar to other utility bills. 
 
Other types of services that will subject to sales tax: lawn mowing, on-line services, UBER/LYFT, lessons (piano, skiing, tutoring, etc.), travel sites, attorneys, accounting, engineering, etc. 
   
While real estate services/commissions will not be included in this bill, it would create a real estate transfer tax on title services.
Our lobbyist is working with the sponsor to add language to collect taxes on ALL overnight stays.
 
SB168: Sales & Use Tax Revisions
PASSED.
SB 168 enables collecting sales taxes currently not being remitted on Amazon Market Place purchases. If passes, this should generate significant funding to the general fund.

The fiscal note states SB168 may increase state sales tax revenue by $3.3 million in FY 2020 and $6.5 million in FY 2021.   Local governments should see an increase of $1.4 million in FY 2020 and $2.8 million in FY 2021
 
Sales Tax Distribution Formula 
TO BE DISCUSSED IN SUMMER TAX REFORM TASK FORCE AND SPECIAL SESSION AFTER SEPTEMBER.

While not targeted at tourism communities, they would be among the largest  net revenue losers. The rumored bill would amend the historic 50% point of purchase / 50% population revenue distribution formula to be changed to a point of purchase/jobs//housing/ population formula. The 50/50 formula has existed for 40 + years and will come with a huge battle at the Capitol.

PUBLIC LANDS:
SCR10: Concurrent Resolution Urging Solutions for the Central Wasatch Mountains
FAILED.
Urges support of the Central Wasatch Commission’s work and pursuit of a Federal designation overlay and land swaps.  Some of the major stakeholders met with Senator Cullimore to discuss possibly amending the current language.  Senator Cullimore had some thoughts on how he might want to amend his resolution.  

HB14: State Monuments Act Amendments
PASSED.
HB14 requires State Parks to periodically evaluate and report on state property for possible state monument status; create rules for the management of prospective state monuments; and prepare a proposal in the event State Parks determines that a state monument designation is appropriate.

HB78, Substitute 3: Federal Designations
PASSED.
Requires a governmental entity that intends to advocate for a federal designation of more than 5,000 acres within the state, shall notify the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee before the introduction of federal legislation  and shall meet with the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee to review the proposal, upon request.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING:
SB 72: Transportation Governance and Funding Revisions
PASSED. 
This could relate with transit services, mountain transportation and bicycle transportation projects, as the state plans for increased growth.

It appears that the controversial section of the 167 page bill is in section 72-2-201
(5) "Transportation project":
(a) means a project:
(i) to improve a state or local highway; [and]
(ii) to improve a public transportation facility or nonmotorized transportation facility; (iii) to improve parking facilities that support an intermodal regional transportation
purpose; or
(iv) that is subject to a transportation reinvestment zone agreement pursuant to Section
11-13-227 if the state is party to the agreement;
(b) includes the costs of acquisition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation,
equipping, and fixturing[.]; and
(c) may only include a project if the project is part of:
(i) the statewide long range plan;
(ii) a regional transportation plan of the area metropolitan planning organization if a
metropolitan planning organization exists for the area; or
(iii) a local government general plan.

SB 268 Transportation  Infrastructure Bond Amendments
$13 Million authorized for corridor preservation, land acquisition for a transit hub near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

COMMERCE:
HB 43: Support Animal Amendments

PASSED.
Our lobbyist worked with the Utah Apartment Association and Rep.  Jim Dunnigan to increase the criminal penalty for anyone misrepresenting that a pet is a true service or emotional support animal, when it is not. 

While this bill’s focus is housing, the last portion of this bill, dealing with misrepresentation applies to all public accessible locations.  Membership should anticipate being able to post a sign or messaging on websites notifying customers that it is illegal in Utah to misrepresent a service or support animal. It is a class C misdemeanor.  Language for signs to help discourage customers from misrepresenting their pet is a service or support animal is being crafted.

HB 128: Consumer Ticket Protection Modifications
PASSED.
Requires a person who resells event tickets to disclosures on their website a statement that the ticket website is a secondary market and an itemized breakdown of the price of each ticket.  It prohibits a person who resells event tickets from representing they are the primary, rather than a secondary, ticket seller.

UTAH OFFICE OF TOURISM APPROPRIATION:
$25 million has been appropriated for TMPF.  $1 million over 2018.
Appropriations subcommittees have concluded their work and the Executive Appropriations process has begun.  There may be additional tourism, recreation and economic development related projects over the next three weeks.

HB345: Tourism Marketing Performance Fund Amendments
PASSED.
Our lobbyist secured a technical amendment to HB345 to clarify that he director of GOED's Office of Tourism shall use account money appropriated to  GOED to pay for the statewide advertising, marketing, and branding campaign for promotion of the state as conducted by GOED.

A question had been raised if the previous language could have been interpreted as the Director of GOED could direct the TMPF funds.

The bill was originated by the Utah Sports Commission to amend the partnering requirements with GOED and amends the definition of a qualifying statewide non-profit sports organization to be an in-state non profit, that has existed at least 15 years.
 
ALCOHOL:
HB453S3: Alcohol Amendments
PASSED. It was amended in Committee to include language in HB46 which allows an employee of a restaurant, who is at least 18 years of age to inform a patron of the availability of an alcoholic product for purchase and take a patron's order for an alcoholic product, but not serve the drink.

HB453 modifies which individuals associated with an applicant are subject to a criminal background check by DABC; amends the deadline for a retail manager or an off-premise retail manager to complete the department's manager training program; clarifies how the department determines eligibility for the small manufacturer markup; prohibits a person from maintaining a minibar in a hotel guest room; authorizes interim alcoholic beverage management agreements and inventory transfer agreements; requires each employee of a retail license who sells, offers for sale, or furnishes an alcoholic product to wear an identification badge; allows a retail licensee to unlock a liquor storage area for the purpose of performing inventory, restocking, repairing, or cleaning; provides that a retail licensee may sell, offer for sale, or furnish beer to a patron in more than one container; provides that a closing retail licensee may transfer its inventory of alcoholic product to another retail licensee owned by the same person; permits a minor who is at least 16 years of age and employed by the restaurant to be present in the restaurant's dispensing area; provides the Salt Lake Eccles Theater may hold an on-premise banquet license; allows certain manufacturing package agencies to hold an off-premise beer retailer state license for the same premises, provided the licensee only sells beer that is the product of the manufacturing licensee that holds the package agency; creates a master off-premise beer retailer state license and a master brewery manufacturing license; enacts the Liquor Transport License Act, which authorizes the commission to issue liquor transport licenses under which a person may transport liquor from a state store or package agency to a retail licensee.

HB 80: Restaurant Proximity Amendments 
FAILED.
This bill would ease proximity requirements for licensees to parks, schools and churches. It is not advancing until the Rep. Hawkes bill is worked out. 

SB 132: Beer Amendments:
PASSED. Beer with a maximum of  4% ABW will be allowed to be sold in grocery stores, convenience stores and in restaurants.  Higher alcohol content beer will continue being sold at Utah Liquor stores.  This compromise keeps 89% of the SKU’s currently available in Utah grocery and conveniences stores.

The Senate sponsor is also the Senate Appropriations Chairman.  He is committed to pushing for the original bill.  This original bill would increase retail beer alcohol content, from 3.2 ABW to 4.8% ABW.   Retailers and national beer brands are lobbying for this change. House leadership is not supportive of the bill.

This bill increases retail beer alcohol content, from 3.2 ABW to 4.8% ABW. Retailers and national beer brands are lobbying for this change.  It is anticipated to pass the Senate but still does not have the support of House leadership.

HB 46: Occupational Restriction Amendments:
FAILED, but language from this Bill was amended into the current version of HB453. 
Allows an employee of a restaurant, who is at least 18 years of age to inform a patron of the availability of an alcoholic product for purchase and take a patron's order for an alcoholic product, but not serve the drink.

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