2017 Legislative Review: Business, Campaign Finance, Crime and the Courts

View other reviews in this series:

Business

  • HB 40 – Check Cashing and Deferred Deposit Lending Amendments from Representative Brad Daw (Republican – Orem)
    • Representative Daw, a long time adversary to Utah’s payday loan industry, scored a victory in 2017 by successfully passing legislation that would prevent the refinancing of payday loans (a loophole often used by that industry to avoid other laws that prevent the “rolling over” of existing loans). It is hoped that such reforms will encourage smarter lending in an industry that is often considered predatory.
    • Effect on Budget: $0
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final House vote: 72-0. Final Senate vote: 26-0
  • HB 416 – Targeted Business Income Tax Credit Revisions from Representative Becky Edwards (Republican – North Salt Lake)
    • In recent years, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has been under fire for being uneven in its distribution of tax credits to various companies looking to enter or expand in the state. Though there were various reasons for this, one thing that became abundantly clear during audit investigations was that no formal structure existed when it came to making specific decisions about specific tax credits, allowing administrators room to make decisions. HB 416 provides greater structure and oversight to GOED in an attempt to formalize the restructuring that has already taken place in the office.
    • Effect on Budget: $0
    • Effective Date: Retroactive effective date – January 1, 2017
    • Final House vote: 72-0. Final Senate vote: 26-0
  • SB 250 – Food Truck Licensing and Regulation from Senator Deidre Henderson (Republican – Spanish Fork)
    • In recent years, food trucks have only gained in popularity. With this increase in popularity has also come an increase in city and county ordinances and regulations related to business licensing, health codes, and where trucks and set up shop. Traditional restaurants, over the years, have been able to standardize practices both within businesses and between cities, counties, and states, to ensure that their business doesn’t run afoul of any regulations – mobile food trucks, however, are defined by their ability to be in one location one day, and another the next. As a business model, this opens them up to multiple and widely different rules and regulations, sometimes depending on which side of the street they set up on. SB 250 standardizes requirements by requiring uniform licensure, allows for certain health permits to extend beyond political borders, and prohibits distance requirements.
    • Effect on Budget: $0
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final Senate vote: 23-1. Final House vote: 73-0
  • SB 267 – Utah Rural Jobs Act from Senator Ralph Okerlund (Republican – Monroe)
    • During his State of the State address, Governor Gary Herbert challenged the legislature to address high unemployment rates in rural Utah; the Utah Rural Jobs Act is the legislative response to the governor’s call. The Act authorizes $24.3 million in tax credits to small businesses that invest in rural Utah – specifically businesses in the aerospace, defense, energy and natural resources, financial services, life sciences, outdoor products, or software development industries. These industries in particular, it is felt, will provide long-term economic growth and encourage youth to remain in their communities rather than immigrate to larger cities both inside and outside of the state.
    • Effect on Budget: – $50,000 annually with an overall cap of $24.3 million
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final Senate vote – 27-0. Final House vote: 63-6

Campaign Finance

  • HB 52 – Political Contribution Reporting Amendments from Representative Brad Daw (Republican – Orem)
    • Representative Daw knows a thing or two about the nefarious use of campaign donations to remove someone from office – not because he used this so-called “dark money” but because he was a victim of it as he and his campaign were caught up in the payday loan industry/John Swallow scandal a few years back. Perhaps one of the few legislative legacies of the scandal will be HB 52, which will most likely be narrowly applied in future elections. The legislation does make it a class B misdemeanor to purposefully donate funds through one or more people/organizations in an attempt to hide the source of a campaign donation.
    • Effect on Budget: $0
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final House vote: 72-1. Final Senate vote: 21-0

Crime and the Courts

  • HB 17 – Offenses Against The Person Amendments from Representative Lowry Snow (Republican – St. George)
    • Believe it or not, strangulation was not considered aggravated assault in Utah, meaning that an individual could not be charged with the third-degree felony associated with such a crime. HB 17 changes this by making it clear that such a crime does now reach this level and also ensure that if strangulation takes place against a child, an individual will be charged – something that also was not specifically codified into law until now.
    • Effect on Budget: $0
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final House vote: 72-2. Final Senate vote: 25-0.
  • HB 99 – Bigamy Offense Amendments from Representative Mike Noel (Republican – Kanab)
    • HB 99 was quite possibly the most controversial piece of legislation to come out of the 2017 session, with several lawmakers commenting that this particular piece of legislation drew the most emails and messages from the public. The reason for the controversy sprung from Representative Noel’s ramping up of the state’s bigamy laws…specifically as they relate to polygamy. Though the bill never actually addresses polygamy, the intent is clear: if you are actively participating in that practice (and more specifically, the child/spouse abuse, fraud, and unfair practices that can often take place in modern polygamist families) the state is going to come after you via employing a more severe punishment when compared to regular bigamy charges.  Whereas common bigamy is a third-degree felony, Noel’s legislation bumps up the penalty for this particularly harmful form of bigamy to a second-degree felony. Opponents were concerned that the legislation would drive the already secretive communities further underground, making it even more difficult to help those being harmed by their leaders.
    • Effect on Budget: $0
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final House vote: 48-25. Final Senate vote: 15-14.
  • HB 149 – Child Abuse Offender Registry from Representative Derrin Owens (Republican – Fountain Green)
    • Most people are familiar with the sex offender registry, either in person or in concept. If an individual commits a sexual crime, they are placed on a searchable database that anyone can access. Representative Owens, with HB 149, wants to expand the list of people on that list by requiring that felonious child abusers are also placed on the same list – reasoning that these individuals pose a risk and that the public deserves to know who is in their neighborhood. Though it wasn’t enough to kill the bill, many lawmakers were concerned that this would dilute the importance and weight of the sex offender registry – wondering if everything under the sun could not one day appear on the list.
    • Effect on Budget: – $66,200 annually
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final House vote: 67-6. Final Senate vote: 15-12.
  • HB 206 – Domestic Violence – Weapons Restrictions from Representative Brian King (Democrat – Salt Lake City)
    • Though it is already federal law, the resources simply do not exist to properly enforce restrictions that prohibit those who have restraining orders against them or those who have been convicted of domestic violence from being able to own a gun. By making it law, the state is effectively stating that if the federal government is unable to step in, the state will.
    • Effect on Budget: – $188,500 annually.
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final House vote: 72-0. Final Senate vote: 23-2.
  • HB 259 – Duty to Retreat Amendments from Representative Cory Maloy (Republican – Lehi)
    • Freshman lawmaker Cory Maloy dove head first into the sausage making this year with HB 259, which would have prohibited prosecutors from discussing the ability for a victim to flee a crime when they are feeling threatened. Maloy argued that the legislation only sought to clarify current law, however, Maloy appeared ill-prepared to counter the “stand your ground” stigma the legislation was intrinsically linked to.
    • Final House vote: 53-15.
  • HB 369 – Criminal Penalty Enhancements for Sexual Offenses from Representative Justin Fawson (Republican – North Ogden)
    • HB 369 certainly went through some major transitions over the course of the legislative session. When first introduced, the legislation would have made it a felony for an individual with HIV/AIDS to have sex with a consenting partner if that individual failed to disclose that they had the disease. Due to a vocal outcry from the LGBT community that the bill painted too broad of a brush stroke, Fawson would have his bill amended in the final hours of the session so that now, if an individual has HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B or C and they are engaged in a sexual assault, their crime will be bumped up one degree.
    • Effect on Budget: $0
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final House vote: 59-12. Final Senate vote: 27-1.
  • SB 185 – Cause of Action for Minors Injured by Pornography from Senator Todd Weiler (Republican – Woods Cross)
    • Senator Weiler drew quite a bit of attention with his latest round of attacks against the porn industry with SB 185. The legislation would allow individuals or their parents to sue pornographers if they could prove that they caused harm to a child through the viewing of pornography. The bill does allow for a “safe harbor” wherein pornographers could avoid civil litigation if they provide a warning that viewing pornography may be harmful to minors and that they make a good faith effort to verify the age of the individual viewing the pornography.
    • Effect on Budget: $0
    • Effective Date: Standard effective date – May 9, 2017
    • Final Senate vote: 22-0. Final Senate vote: 50-8.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *