Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After three weeks of session, we are hitting our stride and getting a lot done. So far, we have passed a total of 50 bills this week. One comment I hear quite often from constituents is that we are just passing way too many laws. There is some truth to that. What Utahns may not know, is that many, if not most bills make very small technical changes to Utah law. So, it is not all about adding more laws, it’s also about fixing what is already on the books. For years, Utah has been ranked the most well-run state in the nation because we have an intelligent, educated, hard-working citizenry that is engaged in the process. Please, continue to be involved in this process. We can’t do it without you.
Every year, the Utah State Senate holds a Visual Arts Scholarship Competition. This contest challenges Utah students to view the world artistically and express their creativity. Students were encouraged to share a visual idea of an aspect of Utah that is meaningful and inspirational to them, whether that be the land, people or a specific moment in the state’s history.
I am proud to announce that Emma Greally who lives in my district and attends The Waterford School, is one of the winners. Congratulations!
For those who are unable to view the art in-person, a virtual gallery has been created and can be viewed here.
Support for Film in Utah
Last year the "Yellowstone" series left Utah to film in Montana because we were not able to provide the same tax credits. These credits are distributed post-performance, meaning that we incentivize film companies to record in Utah and keep their money within our state. I am proud to sponsor S.B. 167 Utah Film Economic Incentives, which changes the maximum amount of refundable motion picture tax credit certificates that the Governor's Office of Economic Development can distribute in a year, from $6.7 million to $15 million. There has been lots of positive feedback from large companies, independent producers and film industry workers, who all say that this bill will attract filmmakers to Utah and stimulate the state economy, particularly in rural areas that are popular for their natural settings.
Financial Relief for Businesses Harmed by COVID-19
Over the last year, we made significant efforts to provide economic support to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. S.B. 25 Corporate Tax Amendments, provides more targeted relief to businesses by allowing them to carry back a Utah net loss realized during 2020 for up to three years. The idea is if a business was profitable in the three years leading up to 2020, but then suffered a loss in 2020, the loss is very likely to have been caused by the economic hardship brought about by the pandemic. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. You can watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
Driver License Changes
This week, we considered legislation that would make changes to the driver’s license requirements for new drivers. H.B. 18 Driver Education Amendments, would extend the term of a learner permit from one year to 18 months. This change does not prevent youth from getting their license upon turning 16. In addition, this bill would remove the required six observation hours for driver education observation for 15-17-year-olds. This bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.
Although Utah works hard to have accurate and secure elections, ballots are occasionally mailed to deceased voters. H.B. 12 Deceased Voter Amendments, creates a more uniform process to rectify this issue. The bill requires that the death certificate be sent from the state registrar to the Lieutenant Governor’s office within five business days of the certificate's registration. The certificate will then be sent to the County Clerk’s office where the deceased name will be removed from the voter rolls. Before each election cycle, the Lieutenant Governor’s office will also cross-check each name against United States Social Security Administration data. H.B. 12 passed the Senate and House and will be sent to the governor. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.
Conceal Carry Firearm Amendments
Utah currently has an "open carry" law that allows individuals who are legally able to possess a firearm to open carry in public. H.B. 60 Conceal Carry Firearms Amendments, would allow anyone over 21, who is legally allowed to possess a firearm, to carry a concealed weapon in public without a concealed carry permit. Additionally, this bill would establish a Suicide Prevention and Education Fund and a portion of funds collected from the concealed carry permit class will go toward suicide prevention efforts and firearm safety. This bill will not discontinue the concealed carry permit class or change specifications on how firearms can be carried in public. H.B. 60 passed the Senate and will be sent to the House for their consideration. Listen to the bill’s presentation on the Senate floor here.
Senator Ron Winterton
Utah Senate District 26