The Chamber - Championing Your Legislative Issues
A review of the legislative session from our local representatives with a little perspective from time
With spring upon us, I hope many of you are enjoying the longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and the budding trees and flowers that signal the change of seasons we look forward to every year after a long Cache Valley winter.
While we may be looking forward to spring, I would like to take a little time to look back and review some of the important issues that were covered in this year's legislative session. My hope is now, with a little bit of time behind us since the session ended, we can review some of the key items and topics that our local representatives highlighted in our review breakfast, with some purpose and perspective that a little time often gives us. There were several bills and issues that were proposed or voted on that have repercussions well beyond the 45-day legislative session, and keeping these issues and bills in mind as we do business and live our lives helps us to be more responsible and aware citizens.
Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs Committee was very engaged during the recent Legislative Session. The Chair of the committee, Chad Campbell and I met to establish a plan before the session began. We organized subcommittees and identified key members of the Chamber and Community to participate as the group met weekly during the Utah Legislative Session. At these weekly meetings we invited the subcommittees to present legislation topics and areas of focus to the entire group. We then began our tracking of the Bills and identified those that we opposed, supported and wanted to watch. Cache Valley Chamber belongs to Northern Utah Chamber Coalition (NUCC), and each week we submitted the results of our tracking to NUCC. Each week of the session NUCC met with the Northern Utah Legislators.
On March 19th B-Tech hosted a Legislative wrap-up meeting. We invited our Legislators to attend and asked that each one reported on the session. Here are the highlights from this Legislative wrap-up breakfast.
Senator Lyle Hillyard, Senate District 25
Passing a balanced budget is one of the most important things we do each year. This year, our budget provides a quarter of a billion dollars more of on-going money for public education. This increase in public education funding allowed for a 4 percent WPU value increase. We also funded nearly $30 million in clean air initiatives. We protected the most vulnerable in our society by expanding and supporting social service programs and by expanding Medicaid in a financially sustainable way. The budget also provided increased funding for our law enforcement and correctional officers. Additionally, we put almost $95 million into rainy day funds.
“Our Schools Now,” an initiative organized by the business community, that put Question 1 on the ballot last Fall, has continued to work with legislators to find a way to disburse funds to schools. The result of the hard work and collaboration is SB 149, Teacher and Student Success Act, which allows for a new form of education funding. SB 149 will allow for local control and innovation in tackling school improvement, while also providing money to be used for teacher salaries.
Senator Scott Sandall, Senate District 17
Sponsor Ag Nuisance Bill. As we get such a mix of rural and urban living and as new people move in next to existing farms, ag operations established are protected from a lawsuit. There is a growing desire to have more and more locally grown produce, so this is important to our way of life.
I am happy report that we found $250 million of new money this year for education. We have accumulated a significant amount of new money for education, and people in the classroom are starting to see a real difference.
Representative Dan Johnson, House District 4
Thank you to the Local School Districts for reaching out to me during the session and sharing their thoughts on funding in education. I Served on the Education Standing Committee and appropriations committee. I want our constituents to know that there is a lot of thought and discussion in committees as legislators work hard to evaluate and make necessary changes.
Representative Val Potter, House District 3
I serve as the House Chair of the Business and Economic Committee. We worked hard and got a lot accomplished.
A Bill that we have been working on for two years, and passed, will oversee the Amusement Safety inspections. I also served as the Vice Chair of the air quality caucus. In the end, we got over 20 million appropriated for air quality, and 2 million for electrical charging sites. We realize that we have a long-term problem and we are working to find solutions to air quality. We covered a wide range of topics and a wide range of issues. We worked hard and accomplished a lot, but our work isn’t complete as we will be meeting this summer to tackle tax reform. It is always great working with this team of Northern Utah legislatures.
Representative Lee Perry, House District 29
Serves on the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. He noted that the last Bill to pass was the naming of the Gila Monster as our State reptile. Rep Perry noted that Medicaid Expansion benefits us all. We need to rebalance the ship for Tax reform and the Chamber should be and can be the vehicle to work with our legislators to contribute input for tax reform.
A Bill was passed that will see that a positive change for retirement of law enforcement employees. An increase in retirement benefits will help to retain these law enforcement officers. For 6 years the legislature has been trying to address hate crimes and a Bill was passed that will help protect race, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation.
We approved an appropriation for the Northwest Shoshone Interpretive center just over the boarder in Franklin County. This will impact us here in Utah, as it will bring tourism for Northern Utah.
Joel Ferry, House District 1
Thank you to the Chambers for support! We value the great partnerships with the Chambers. Your involvement with NUCC (Northern Utah Chamber Coalition) helps us know where the local communities are on many of the issues that you care about. We met every Friday morning with these Chamber leaders and listened to their concerns and positions, and it was very helpful.
574 Bills were passed this session. These were efficiently passed, not everything is new, but some are repealed pulled back. Growth requires more work. I served on the Natural resources committee and Criminal Justice committee. At the end of the day, I look at where we are, and are we better off than when we started? I would day yes. I would encourage the members of the Chamber to be involved in the Tax reform. We want to make sure we get it right. There are changes that need to occur. I would encourage you to reach out to us and be part of the process and help us to know how this impacts you and your business.
Casey Snider, House District 5
I have two things as take-aways. 1st- I am impressed with the caliber of people that serve our valley. They have a wide range of expertise and experience of those who serve us, I find this remarkable.
2nd- I am grateful for how well our system works, and we really get along. As legislators, we are bi-partisan for the most part, which is a benefit for our state, unlike our national government.
I am grateful and proud to serve and participate.
We are grateful to all of the people who put in so much time during this past legislative session, and we are looking forward to the future as a community and as a state. Cache Valley legislators will host a series of town hall meetings each month from May to October, with the exception of July. For the full schedule, please follow this link.
Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce
Cache Valley Economic Development Alliance