With the first week of the session under our belts, there is plenty to report on. Let’s begin with some of the big events (many of which revolve around transportation).
State of the State:
This week was Governor Herbert’s “State of the State” address. While the Governor led with education funding, he re-emphasized the need to look into the “Healthy Utah” initiative and public lands. He then raised transportation and growth needs and said he looks forward to working with the Legislature for long-term solutions, emphasizing that the time is now to address mounting transportation needs. Additionally, he touched on the need for reform in the criminal justice system and the need to invest in water infrastructure. Finally, he referenced efforts to improve air quality and declared that industry leaders have committed to convert to Tier III fuels in refineries to reduce emissions…all of which mean big things to counties.
Here is our read on his address in a sentence or less each:
* Transportation: Lets do something (I will support a tax increase)
* Water Funding: When fixing transportation token efforts will be made on water development efforts
* Jail/Corrections Reform: This is important, but it may take a few years
* Air Quality: Look for incentives for Tier III fuel conversion efforts and possible incentives for buying alternative fuel vehicles
Utah Foundation Survey:
On Wednesday, the Utah Foundation released their survey analysis of Utah’s local road infrastructure. You can read the report here (http://www.utahfoundation.org/reports/roads-less-traveled-survey-analysis-research-regarding-utahs-local-roads/) . UAC President Kerry Gibson spoke on behalf of UAC at the press conference and urged the Legislature to empower local governments to meet our infrastructure needs by providing additional funding. We appreciate the work of the Utah Foundation and our co-sponsors in the survey which included the Salt Lake Chamber, Wasatch Front Regional Council, UTA, UDOT, and other MPOs and transportation entities in the state. Additionally, a whole list of resources, information and guides can be found on the Transportation Coalition’s website at www.utahtransportation.org
UAC Policy Meeting:
Additionally this week UAC held its first UAC Policy meeting. Under the new format, we focused on key priorities and received great direction on how to address transportation funding (ensuring local control of funds), centrally assessed appeals (where we were asked to ensure we keep protective appeals and have opportunities to address valuation concerns with the Tax Commission) and Justice Reinvestment (Where we were asked to take a “wait and see” approach as we try to get prosecutors, sheriffs, commissioners/council members and behavioral health officials on the same page in determining a UAC position. For more details, please review the brief notes that can be found on the UAC website www.uacnet.org
Bills and Appropriations:
There is still a lot of work to come on these issues. All of our BIG issues (Centrally Assessed Appeals, Centrally Assessed New Growth and Transportation Funding, Health Funding and Jail Funding) are still in the wings and we are chasing some of the smaller items. To date it has been pretty light in committee on our topics, but we are successfully working on tweaks to items that have been brought to our attention.
Please review the status sheet early next week where we will provide a detailed status on our efforts on each bill. We hope this update serves you well and please know your UAC team is here when you need us.
We look forward to hearing from you all soon. Have a great weekend, and see you next week.
Your UAC Staff
Lincoln Shurtz and the rest of the UAC lobby team