Tax reform, liquor laws on Tim Quinn’s plate heading into 2018 session
January 15, 2018
Utah's state legislative session begins in Salt Lake City on Jan. 22, and Park City's Republican representative, Tim Quinn, is ready to go.
Quinn says he's looking forward, in general, to cutting down on wasteful state spending in the upcoming session.
"(I want to) do one of primarily two things with those moneys saved: increase our rainy day fund and increase funding for education … without raising taxes," Quinn said.
As for Park City, Quinn said he has toured some of the town's businesses and recognizes they'll need attention during the session as well. Some of Park City's bars and restaurants are located in small, historic buildings and physically cannot comply with some of the state's alcohol regulations without running up against fire code or rendering business unsustainable.
Last year's alcohol reform, which passed through the legislature, enabled businesses to throw out their infamous "Zion Curtains" that blocked view of bartenders, but with the stipulation they must designate a zone around their bar where minors aren't allowed or install a partition between the bar and the rest of the establishment. Some Park City bars, located in century-and-a-half old buildings, simply don't have the space to comply.
"I've shared my concerns with (House Majority Leader Brad Wilson), he's in agreement there needs to be some changes," Quinn said. "What those are going to be and what has the best chance of passing, I don't know, but I do think there will be at least some legislative amendments to that bill."
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Quinn said he expects the state's controversial new law that reduces the amount of blood alcohol content required for a DUI to .05, down from .08, to see some adjustments as the session goes on.
The law goes into effect Dec. 30.
Otherwise, the representative emphasizes Park City's autonomy in the face of state regulations.
"The state does have some obligations and responsibilities to do statewide things, roads, infrastructure, taxation," said Quinn. "But most of the things that affect our day-to-day lives; let the counties and cities figure out what their citizens want."
The Heber-based representative also wants to advance a group of bills he's sponsoring, including H.B. 148, which would eliminate the state's grocery tax and instead supplement income with an increase in the general state sales tax.
Quinn said he knows it's an unconventional solution for a conservative to propose, and it has faced some pushback from colleagues.
"When it comes to food, and those who are least among us from a financial standpoint, this to me is not an economic issue but a moral issue," he said.
Other bills the representative is backing include an amendment to the state good Samaritan law that will allow people to rescue unattended children from hot cars, and adjustments to the tax code to bring it in line with the federal tax reform recently signed by President Donald Trump.
"My bill doesn't change our tax rate, it goes in and surgically fixes our tax law so that those people … will be held harmless," he said. "We're going to change the law so that we adjust the way we fill out our tax forms, basically, so that we don't collect any more money but we don't lose any money either."
Quinn said he's always open to feedback from constituents and welcomes comments sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.