TRT Tax Flexibility for Infrastructure Needs
At the request of several counties, UAC has begun an effort to pursue legislation to allow additional flexibility in how TRT Tax is spent. As we continue to attract more tourists to our great state, the toll to our infrastructure continues to increase. We have met with members of leadership in the Senate, and have also begun meeting with the Tourism industry to move forward on this issue. So far, we have a Senate leadership sponsor who has agreed to run the bill for us.
Transportation Planning Taskforce
The Transportation Planning Taskforce that was created during the 2017 session has been meeting regularly during the interim. They have broken into three subcommittees (finance, governance and land use) each charged with coming back with recommendations from those areas. To date, no formal recommendations have been made, but UAC, through our representatives (Ben McAdams and Jeff Scott) has been actively participating in the effort. Issues of governance for transit, land use planning and future funding are all critical to our members and are being heavily debated. They are set for final consideration next week.
Funding of Election Equipment
During the 2017 Legislative Session, the legislature appropriated $275,000 towards voting equipment. Hopefully, it was the first of many appropriations to address Utah’s aging voting equipment. Utah’s voting equipment infrastructure, which has been in place for over a decade, runs off of software that is no longer supported suggesting that that Utah’s current voting equipment is not long of this earth. Our best estimate to replace that equipment: $10 million statewide.
To prepare for the replacement of Utah’s voting equipment, the Lt. Governor’s Office has created the Voting Equipment Selection Committee. The committee (upon which sit a number of county clerks) recently sent an RFP to various voting equipment vendors and will be selecting the next generation of voting equipment in the State of Utah in the coming months.
Just like we did a decade ago, Utah’s counties and the Lt. Governor’s Office are hopeful that we can purchase voting equipment statewide rather than leaving it to each of Utah’s 29 counties to find their own replacement. There are several advantages to a statewide contract including economies of scale and a broader knowledge base to draw from should any election’s office run into challenges with the equipment.
UAC and the Lt. Governor’s Office are interested in a partnership with the state to cover $10 million price tag.
Continued Funding for JRI/Homeless and Behavioral Health
As we continue to witness the devastating effects of a national drug epidemic, coupled with changes in sentencing guidelines for drug offenses, the impact on communities has the potential to be devastating. Efforts to increase funding for essential social services, as an alternative to incarceration, are critical. The Legislature continues to demonstrate its commitment to these issues, but our work is not done. Efforts will be made this year to acquire more funding for probation and parole supervision, behavioral health treatment, and related social services.
Additionally as the federal medicaid waiver is still in question, we may need to go back for additional funding to simply meet current state obligations that were contingent upon the federal waiver and funding participation. That deadline for the waiver was originally set for November 1, but seems unlikely to be met. More to come on this issue.