This week the Utah Association of Counties had the opportunity to meet with Congresswoman Mia Love while she was in town. Representatives of Washington, Utah, Davis, Salt Lake and Tooele Counties joined UAC staff to discuss several pertinent topics.
As Congress continues to debate health care reform, counties have a vested stake in the outcome based on our role in providing Medicaid services for behavioral health. Congresswoman Love was hopeful that the issue would eventually come up for a vote, but was uncertain of the timing. She conveyed her concerns with the “do nothing” approach. Acknowledging that the bill may not be perfect, she warned that perfect should not be the enemy of good. She encouraged our members to both read the legislation which preserves essential health benefits (a major issue for counties) and to also work with the entire delegation to encourage continued deliberation on the subject.
Additionally, we discussed federal tax reform efforts and the possible implications on the status of tax-exempt municipal bonds. She assured our members that congress has no interest in removing the tax-exempt status as a part of tax reform, and as a former mayor she is keenly aware of our concern. She did caution that several elements of tax reform are intrinsically tied to health reform, so without some momentum in health care reform she felt that tax reform would be a difficult task.
Additionally, we discussed online sales tax as a part of tax reform. At this point, the two issues have not been linked and she said considerable work needs to be done with stakeholders before that issue moves forward. On this point, she encouraged UAC to work with stakeholders from other states (other state associations) to see if there can be a coordinated effort to overcome congressional road blocks on the subject.
After nearly an hour of discussion, we concluded with the Congresswoman and committed to continue to work with her office on our county priorities.