Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are officially down to the single digits with less than five days left of the general session and 197 bills passed. In case you missed it, revenue estimates for state fiscal years 2021 and 2022 show the longstanding strength of Utah’s economy, despite unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19.
The new consensus revenue estimates identify $112 million in additional ongoing money and $315 million in one-time money. This year, a historic $400 million increase will go toward public education, and a significant portion of ongoing funds will be dedicated to increased enrollment in Medicaid expansion. Exciting news!
Local Education Agency Policies Amendments (My bill)
Last year, we heard that some schools with smaller student populations in rural communities did not have the same opportunity to provide input to find the best strategies for their students and district during the COVID-19 pandemic. S.B. 187 Local Education Agency Policies Amendments, gives local control back to schools and communities regarding public health orders. If this bill passes, the governor, Department of Health or the local health department agency would be required to consult with local school districts to understand and respond to needs during public health orders. This will not eliminate input from local health boards and is not meant to support or oppose any COVID-19 measure. S.B. 187 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.
The Legislature announced the state will provide approximately $100 million in tax relief to Utah citizens. Though Utah’s economy is in an advantageous position compared to other states, many Utahns are still struggling, and the Senate wants to provide tax relief to those who need it most. The tax relief package targets families, veterans and elderly Utahns and will be accomplished by three bills: S.B. 153, S.B. 11 and H.B. 86.
S.B. 153 Utah Personal Exemption Amendments, restores part of the dependent tax exemption, which was reduced in the 2017 federal tax reform, increasing taxes for many Utah families. In 2018, the Utah Legislature brought back a portion of the exemption and is now seeking to restore even more of the exemption to further reduce taxes for families in our great state.
S.B. 11 Retirement Income Tax Amendments, targets men and women who served in the armed forces by eliminating individual income tax on military retirement pay.
H.B. 86 Social Security Tax Amendments, eliminates income tax on some social security income, benefitting many Utah seniors living on a fixed income.
These tailor-made policies will provide a significant benefit to Utah families, veterans and senior citizens and will ensure that Utah continues to thrive.
Vehicle Registration Renewal Notices
Last year, the Utah Tax Commission discontinued postcard mailers reminding vehicle owners when their vehicle registration renewal is due. Since this practice was discontinued in September, Utahns have asked for these mailers to be sent again. H.B. 170 Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice Requirements, officially requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to resume the use of mailers to remind owners when their vehicles are due for registration renewal. This bill passed on second reading with unanimous support in the Senate.
Grant Program for Small Businesses
Many businesses felt the impact of COVID-19 this year. Small businesses in particular were hit hard by financial losses. S.B. 202 Grant Program for Small Businesses, creates a grant program that will be administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for small businesses that experienced significant loss due to the pandemic. The grant will open in phases to ensure businesses that experienced the greatest losses will have the first opportunity to apply for the grant. The grant covers three months of fixed costs, including payroll, rent, utilities and insurance. The first phase will open to businesses that experienced a 90 percent loss or greater in 2020. The grant will then open to businesses that experienced an 80 percent loss and continue in that pattern until the fund is fully utilized. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.
Utah Saves Week
The Utah Legislature named week six “Utah Saves Week” to encourage Utahns to learn about saving strategies, build wealth and connect with free resources to achieve financial goals. One way to start saving is to search our state’s unclaimed property database, mycash.utah.gov, at least once a year for unclaimed property, as well as for property belonging to family, friends, deceased relatives and organizations you support. When a business owes money to an individual or organization and cannot locate them, the funds are remitted to the Utah Unclaimed Property Division of the Office of State Treasurer. Each year, between $30 to $60 million in unclaimed property is turned over to the state.
Below is unclaimed property in my senate district alone. Read how to check if you have unclaimed property here.
Senate District: 26
Total Cash Remaining: $5,836,947.62
Property Owner Count: 42,069
Remitted Cash: $5,669,983.47
Remaining Securities Cash: $166,451.69
Remaining Shares: 1,078,471
Remaining Tangible Proceeds: $512.46
Senator Ron Winterton
Utah Senate District 26