October 24, 2011 Staff Report on Weekly Meetings: Week of October 17, 2011
Legislative Policy Meetings
We started of the week with a great Legislative Policy Meeting (thanks to those who were able to attend). Continuing to follow our new meeting platform, we focused on just a few issues instead of trying to fit everything in to each meeting. This meeting’s focus was on the recent legislative proposal to redistribute sales tax and also on recent Utah State Retirement findings that would require the payment of retirement contributions for part-time employees if they earn over a certain amount. Each item received much debate. Most expressing concern on redistribution concepts and requests to find more information on the retirement issue and look at legislation to prevent such issues in the future.
- Broadband Deployment
The Governor’s staff was the first one to present to the Committee. The focus of their presentation was on the two areas of the Broadband advisory council mission. The first is the mapping of broadband availability in Utah. They spoke on the progress they have made so far in this aspect. The second was planning and coordination of future broadband deployment with an emphasis on getting broadband to the underserved and rural areas of the state. They also mentioned this as an economic development tool for all of these areas.
Steve Fletcher from DTS then presented on what his department is doing to increase broadband deployment in Utah. He spoke quickly on how this is an economic development tool and how that is important to Utah.
The ULCT staff spoke next, and gave a quick history as to why he was placed on the board. Lincoln spoke on the fact that some coordination of fiber deployment is taking place currently. He later spoke on the fact that coordination and trading of fiber is going on currently due to the stand out effort of certain individuals. He later commented that they might want to formalize some of the trades and efforts that are being made by a few. He also affirmed these efforts need to be done with both public and private entities. He also spoke to the fact that this is a great area to enter into public private partnerships where both parties will see a benefit.
Lynn Yocum from UDOT presented on all the good things that they have been doing at UDOT as far as making smart roads. She gave a few examples of trades that have taken place and helped UDOT expand their reach. By doing this she has been able to do more with less as mandated by the governor.
Mike Peterson from UEA gave a presentation on their current infrastructure. He showed the state and all of the schools and libraries they have connected. He then spoke on the E-rate program and how they are able to receive nearly two dollars for every one that they use on long term leases from private entities to connect their buildings.
The presentation was good in educating legislator on the Broadband deployment that is currently going on in Utah. It also gave them a scope of the importance of Broadband to Utah.
- Natural Resources – State Parks
The Natural Resources Interim Committee discussed the future of Utah state parks. The Legislature reduced the Division of Utah State Parks & Recreation’s budget from FY 2010 from $12.2 million to $6.7 million in FY 2012 and the legislature wants to wean state parks off of the general fund via privatization, staff reduction, and turning park management over to local governments. Every local government contacted by the Division, however, declined management due to the financial obligations. The Division’s director and dozens of supporters advocated for renewed funding and two legislators opined that the value of state parks cannot be quantified and expressed support for legislative funding of state parks. Nevertheless, other legislators voiced concern that federal budget cuts would continue to strain the state budget. Many cities and residents depend on the economic benefits and cultural value of the state parks. Consequently, ULCT will monitor the state park dialogue and how much the legislature promotes relinquishing state parks to local or private control.
- Sales Tax Distribution
The Revenue and Tax Committee briefly discussed sales tax distribution. Due to time constraints, the committee did not take public comment and instead pushed the item to November’s interim agenda. The committee did, however, get a brief explanation of a possible bill from Rep. Greg Hughes and Rep. Jim Nielsen, which would change the local distribution formula from 50-50 (50% point of sale and 50% population) to a 50-25-25 (50% population, 25% point of sale and 25% total wages within the city). Numbers were provided as a part of that presentation and further analysis will be done by ULCT staff to better understand the full effect of any proposed change. Cities have expressed deep concern over the proposal and the ULCT will continue to work with the Legislature to make our concerns known.
- Meeting with Legislators on ULCT initiated pawnshop legislation to deal with unintended consequences to a bill from the 2011 session
- Meeting with Legislators on a bill to modify the land-use code dealing with rentals to multiple families (number of unrelated individuals that can live together)
- Meeting with legislators on retirement issues referenced above
- Meeting with UDOT to discuss B&C allocation issues
The week of October 24th will be a busy week for the ULCT with our land use taskforce reconvening to discuss proposed legislation for 2012. We will also be meeting with SL County on township/duplication of services issues in Salt Lake County and cities within SL County, and the Utah Intergovernmental Roundtable summit, which will focus on the future of agriculture in Utah. We will have a full report on these and other meetings of the week on Friday. Until then, enjoy your week.
Please call if you have any questions.
Your ULCT Legislative Team