Today marked the end of legislative committee meetings. For the final three days of the legislative session it is floor time all the time. That means that the format of these updates will look a little different for the last week of the session. Instead of featuring a “Looking Ahead to…” and a “Looking Back” section of the post, I’ll just offer some rambling thoughts as the session runs down. And if the next three days are anything like today, I’ll have plenty to write about.
Funding for Homelessness
Representative Eliason introduced a substitute to his bill to provide additional funds to the state’s homelessness initiative this afternoon. If you remember, the original version of HB 452 would have pulled sales tax revenues from cities and counties (I ran some calculations on what that would have cost here).
The substitute bill would pull roughly $3.2M from county property taxes to go towards the state’s homelessness initiative. It would have ascribed a graduated rate towards Utah’s counties based on class (with larger counties contributing more to the initiative) and then multiplying that rate on each counties’ population.
As a concession for the counties, the bill would allow the counties to raise their property tax rate compensatory to the amount they’d have to contribute to the homelessness initiative without going through truth in taxation.
The substitute bill was presented before the House Revenue and Taxation Standing Committee and then failed to pass out of the committee on a 4-4 vote.
We’ve been told that this was a priority bill of the house leadership, so there’s a chance it comes back; but if it does, it’s got an uphill climb.
I ran some numbers showing the impact the substitute bill would have had on Utah’s 29 counties, if you’re interested.
Election Law Madness
Two election bills were up in committee this morning. The first would have required Utah to move to ranked choice voting for all primary and municipal elections by 2019. HB 349 includes a $10M fiscal note to county government because we would have no choice but to purchase new voting equipment to administer such elections. The motion to recommend HB 349 to the senate failed on a 3-3 vote. County clerks have consistently argued that ranked choice voting would be confusing and time-consuming to voters and administratively burdensome to election officials.
The other election bill in committee this morning is HB 159. This bill would greatly clean up voter rolls as it would shift voter registration at the DMV from an opt in process to an opt out process. (UAC and Utah’s county clerks have prepared a bullet sheet on the bill, view it here.) Fortunately, this bill passed out of committee on a 5-1 vote.
- SB 198, which would modify Utah’s E-911 infrastructure, passed out of house committee today and now moves to the house floor.
- SB 241, which would require counties and cities make a decision on certain construction plans within three to four weeks, also passed out of committee and moves to the house floor. The bill sunsets in a year and serves as incentive for local government and builders to come together over the interim to work on a longterm solution to builders’ concerns over length of construction approval.
Arie Van De Graaff