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The City Café

For those interested in sharing ideas and perspectives regarding local government.

On Wednesday June 20, the Governor called for a special session to address a number of issues that have arisen between the regularly scheduled annual legislative sessions:

Alcohol:  The pent-up demand for full-service (all types of alcohol) and limited-service (wine and beer only) restaurant licenses, was one such issue.  At the June Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control board meeting, 25 full-service and 18 limited-service applicants were unable to obtain a license.  The legislature passed Senate Bill 4001 which modified the quotas for full-service and limited-service restaurants and increased the total number of licenses by 90, with 50 full-service and 40 limited-service licenses.

SB 4001 also increased the fees for alcohol permits by 10% which will fund an additional four law enforcement officers in the Division of Public Safety as well as extra resources for DUI stings by the Utah Highway Patrol.  Those four officers will be responsible to monitor restaurant licensees to prevent underage alcohol consumption and the UHP will target DUI stings on Friday and Saturday nights.

Going forward, there are ongoing concerns about the club license quota (social clubs, fine dining, country clubs), operational requirements, and other alcohol-related processes.  For now, the legislature was willing to reach a compromise between additional licenses for certain outlets with additional law enforcement and recognized the economic community value of empowering new restaurants to open in Utah.

Department of Environmental Quality – Emerging Issues:  The focus of the presentation was on nutrients and air quality.  The presentation on nutrients was very similar to the one given at LPC last week. The nutrient discussion deals with the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in Utah’s water. This is a huge issue for cities and depending on what standard the State adopts the cost could be between 200 million and 1 billion for infrastructure and an ongoing maintenance fee.  The air quality discussion dealt with the areas that PM 2.5 requirements are not being met.  The state has a program to minimize this air pollutant and bring us below the standard.  They also spoke quickly about Petroleum Storage Tank Trust Fund cost recovery; use of water resources in the development of oil shale and oil sands; state funding of water projects; and Great Salt Lake water quality.

Telecommunication Taxes and Fees:  A quick presentation was given by staff explaining who are the various telecommunication providers and the taxes they pay.  Staff gave a quick explanation of who pays what tax and what those taxes represent.  After the explanation of taxes Senator Bramble talked quickly about the need for the presentation.  He explained that they are looking to see if there is a better more equitable way to tax these Telecommunication providers.  The technology behind telecommunications is always changing and they want to broaden the base and try to tax the end use and not the current technology since technology is always changing.  They are starting discussions with stakeholders to make sure that they include all those that will be affected by changing the tax. The League is closely involved in this issue with Senator Bramble and will be working on a solution that works for cities and Towns in Utah.

Bond Elections:  Concern was raised about special bond elections (those not held as part of a general election) and under what circumstances they should be permitted.  Also, an assertion was made that in a current special election that voter information was provided only regarding proponents of the proposal.  The committee will examine proposed legislation at a future meeting.

Internet Sales:  The committee reviewed a proposed resolution supporting federal legislation to facilitate collection of sales tax on remote sales (internet sales) to be presented at the upcoming ALEC and NCSL meetings.  The resolution largely mirrors a similar resolution passed during the last legislative session.

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