2012 Utah Legislature Highlights for Businesses
March 13, 2012
After 45 days, the legislative session has come and gone and in its wake Utah businesses must decipher the most important points from the hundreds of bills passed, blocked, introduced and circled this year. The Legislative highlights for businesses from the 2012 Utah Legislature include:
Gains in Tourism Marketing Appropriations
Early on in the Legislature, the tourism industry had concerns that the tourism marketing appropriations would be slashed from $7M to $6M. The cuts would have followed four consecutive years of cuts to the department. With a surplus and pressure from industry members, legislators raised funding to $9M. According to the Utah Office of Tourism, tourism accounts for $6.5B of Utah’s gross domestic product, employs 122,000 people and reduces Utah household’s tax burden by $1,000 through tourism taxes paid to state and local governments.
DABC Restructuring Laid Out
Legislators anticipated legislation that would restructure the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control following last year’s scandals when reports surfaced that the director was giving state contracts to his son. S.B. 66 and H.B. 354 passed and are awaiting Gov. Herbert’s signature. Along with adding two more commissioner positions and providing more oversight over the director’s position, legislators passed a bill that would study alcohol use in Utah. The studies may provide better information in forming alcohol-related laws in the future.
S.B. 66 and H.B. 354 passed and are currently awaiting Gov. Herbert’s signature.
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Ski Interconnect Supported
The Utah Senate passed a resolution in support of any ski interconnect project that would link resorts. As the SkiLink legislation, S.C.R. 10, advances on the federal level, state legislators decided to pass a bill in support of the concept. The bill expresses support for low-impact interconnection of the seven resorts in Salt Lake County and Summit County to enhance the ski and snowboard industry’s contribution to Utah’s economy, jobs, and tax base.
S.C.R. 10 passed and is currently awaiting printing.
Environmental Boards Revamped
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality was revamped by legislators in S.B. 21, shifting certain controls and responsibilities away from the five boards that address air quality, radiation control, water quality, drinking water and solid and hazardous waste, the five boards that currently deal with permitting and rule making. The legislation was developed by the Utah Manufacturers Association and the Utah Mining Association with the hopes that businesses would be able to move through the permitting process more quickly. The director of the DEQ would control final permitting appeals for businesses, a move seen by opponents as giving more power to the Governor while removing steps in the public process.
S.B 21 passed and is awaiting enrollment from the Legislative Research and General Counsel.