Monthly Archives

February 2017

Senator Curt Bramble - District 16 Utah

Week 5 – 2017 Legislative Session

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are holding a town hall next Saturday (March 4) at 9:15 in the Clark Auditorium (Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Northwest Plaza, on the corner of 500 W. and Bulldog Blvd. in Provo). We will have a continental breakfast. Please come and discuss the issues.

With Week 5 of the 2017 Legislative Session over, we are now more than two-thirds of the way done! We have passed a total of 163 bills and they just keep on coming. You can keep track of these bills with the bill tracker tool found here.

This week we were also  honored to hear reports from Senator Orrin Hatch and Congresswoman Mia Love. You can watch Senator Hatch’s report here: [http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=21303&meta_id=679808 ] and Congresswoman Love’s report here: [http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=21331&meta_id=681014 ]

You can click on any of the linked bills in this letter to take you to the bill homepage. The most recent version of the bill will be displayed. You can also click to find the status of the bill, vote counts, and all the audio/video of floor and committee debates! Thank you for your interest in our legislative process.

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My Bills

Cyber Exploitation Amendements 

SB232 was heard on the Senate floor on Friday and passed the 2nd reading calendar with a unanimous vote. This legislation deals with sexploitation which is commonly used as a form of control over victims of sexual violence. Keep an eye on this bill as it gets voted on again in the Senate and then will move to the House.

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Online Sales Tax

In Utah, our legislative fiscal analysts have estimated that around $220 million of owed sales tax goes unpaid because of online purchases. While Utahn’s are currently required to pay sales tax for their online purchases, fewer than 2% actually pay their owed tax. That is $220 million that we could be spending on education, infrastructure, and social services.

Because online retailers are not required to collect the owed sales tax, this also creates an unfair advantage to online retailers, and makes it difficult for our local, brick-and-mortar businesses to thrive. 1SB 110 would balance the playing field and help collect the owed tax. This bill would require retailers who earn over $100,000 of sales in Utah to begin collecting sales tax. For an affiliate, the threshold is $10,000 of sales in Utah before they are required to collect sales tax. This bill passed out of the Senate this week and will now be considered by the House.

 

Other Week 5 Issues

Drone Regulations

Each year for the last couple of years, we have seen bills about unmanned aircrafts, otherwise known as drones. Because drones are a newer technology, states across the country are still working on how to best regulate them.  1SB 111Unmanned Aircraft Amendments, would clarify a unifying drone code for Utah that would include federal standards for safe flying practices. It also addresses concerns about privacy and voyeurism by defining them in code and declares it unlawful to attach a weapon to a drone. This bill passed out of the Senate unanimously, and is now being considered by the House.

Animal Euthanasia

We all love our pets. We want them to live happy lives, and have peaceful deaths. SB 56 Animal Shelter Amendments, would create a less stressful manner of euthanasia for animals. This bill does away with the gas chambers that have previously been used, and instead requires euthanasia be done by injection, which is quicker, less traumatic, and less costly.

New bill would allow Department of Licensing to cite unprofessional conduct

Senator Ipson presented SB184 on the floor this week. This bill allows the Department of Professional Licensing to create rules governing the professional and unprofessional conduct of Professional Structural Engineers. This bill passed unanimously through the Senate and will now be heard in the House.

Senate gives green light to Cannabinol Research Bill

One of the major concerns with Medical Marijuana is the lack of consistent research regarding the benefits and side effects of different cannabinol-based products. HB130 is a bill that paves the way for further research by allowing the possession of cannabinol as part of Department of Health Institutional Review Board approved research project. This bill passed the House and the Senate.

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The Fix-it Ticket Bill

Senator Jake Anderegg describes SB 90 Vehicle Inspection and Registration Amendments as a simple Fix-it Ticket bill. It provides for a two-week window for anyone receiving a citation related to safety or emissions issues for their vehicle. In other words, if a person is pulled over by law enforcement and issued a citation for a broken tail light, if the broken tail light is fixed within two weeks, the fee for that violation will be waived. Senator Anderegg said that this ensures that the focus of citations is safety and not revenue. This bill has passed in both the House and Senate and has returned to the Senate for enrolling.

Resolution for an Article V Convention fails in the Senate

Those who have followed the Article V Convention debate over the years know that this is a contentious issue. House Joint Resolution 3 Calling for a Convention to Amend the Constitution of the United States sponsored by Representative Merrill Nelson passed in the House with 29 representatives from both parties voting against it.

In the Senate, those opposed to the resolution talked about the possibility of unintended consequences. Senator Gene Davis talked about the risk of destroying the separation of powers now outlined in the U.S. Constitution. Those that support the concept argue that most fears are overblown because of the requirements for ratification. Senator Thatcher pointed out that there is little chance that three-fourths of the states would vote to do away with any of the Bill of Rights. The Joint Resolution failed in the Senate with a vote of 12-16-1.


It is an honor to serve. Please follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/curtbrambleutah. You can e-mail me at anytime with issues and concerns you might have.

Curt

2017 Legislative Session – Week 3

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Week 3 of the 2017 Legislative Session is in the books! A total of 50 bills have passed through the legislature while committee agendas and reading calendars continue to be filled with more bills. Public Lands continue to be one of the biggest issues facing the legislature this session. Senate Majority Whip – Stuart Adams, recently wrote a great articledescribing why he supports the resolution to rescind Bears Ears National Monument. [ http://www.senatesite.com/2017/why-i-support-hcr11/ ]

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Each year during the Utah Legislative session, the federal delegation is invited to speak to the Utah Senate and give a report on their activities in Washington D.C. This week, we were honored to hear from Congressman Chris, Jason Chaffetz, and Rob Bishop. Congressman Stewart spoke about the need for greater civility and graciousness in our discourse. Congressman Chaffetz reported on his recent conversation with President Trump and his efforts on various reforms including the postal service and the tax code. Congressman Bishop focused on federalism and the “Article One Project.”

It was our pleasure to hear a special musical number from the Tony award winning singer and actor and Utah resident, Alfie Boe. We also honored Utah’s snow removal teams, who work tirelessly to keep the roads clear and keep Utahns safe.

Week 3 Top Issues

The Budget

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, the budget is the most important item we work on during the legislative session. Every year we are tasked with passing a balanced budget before the 45-day session expires. This week we approved all of our base budgets for our eight appropriation subcommittees. Dividing appropriations into subcommittees like public education and social services helps us to give a deeper look at the many appropriations requests we receive each year. After the subcommittees consider the requests, they report back to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) how they recommend spending their budget. After the subcommittees and the EAC have discussed the budget, the subcommittees are ready to present their base budget bills to the legislature as a whole for consideration. You can watch the Senate pass the subcommittee base budget bills here. You can also learn more about the budget process here.

In the News: Utah Policy | Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune

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UTA Governance Overhaul

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has been an agency of controversy for the last couple of years. There has been public concern over the executive salaries, travel expenses, perceived deals with developers who are connected to the board, and public meetings. Over the years UTA has taken various steps to fix many of these problems, but their biggest problem still remains — a lack of good constituent services. SB 174, sponsored by Senator Harper, would change the UTA board to an eight-member board with each member representing a different district of equal population. Each board member would need to be confirmed by the Senate. This bill also creates a citizen board advisory board in order to create a more constituent-oriented UTA with better communications from local users. This bill passed out of the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology with a favorable recommendation.

In the News: Salt Lake Tribune

20 Years later, it is time we look at Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument

Last week the Senate passed a resolution that calls on the President to overturn the Bears Ears Decision. This companion resolution, sponsored by Senator Okerlund calls on Congress to begin a discussion over the boundaries of the Escalante National Monument.  Almost twenty years after the monument designation there are numerous questions. Is a national monument the best land use policy for that area? How is this monument restricting economic opportunities? How is the monument impacting the revenue streams for local counties? Some areas need to be protected inside the Monument but some areas can also be opened up.  Listen to the floor debate here.

What is an Equity Pupil Unit and How will it help School Kids?

SB80 School Funding Amendments, also known as the Equity Pupil Unit, is sponsored by Senator Fillmore and described as the way that we will keep our promise to Utah school kids made 100 years ago. That promise was that, no matter the economic situation of your school district, you’ll have adequate funding for your education. He said that SB80 will take future growth in the state’s Education Fund and use it to grow education faster at the lower funded school districts and will grow a little bit slower at school districts with much higher funding.

Senator Fillmore said that this will not take money from some districts to give to others. Every school district will keep every penny of property tax that is levied in that district. Instead the bill creates a formula allocation change in the future so that education funding will grow a little bit faster for school districts that have a harder time generating revenue on their own. Listen to the floor debate here.

In The News: Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune

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It is an honor to serve you in the State Senate. Please do not hesitate to let me know your opinions on issues coming before the Legislature.

Curt

 

 

2017 Legislative Session – Week 2

By | Legislative Update | No Comments

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Week 2 of the 2017 Legislative Session is in the books! A total of 11 bills have passed through the entire legislature but committee agendas and reading calendars are filling up with bills in a hurry.  We typically spend more time at the beginning of the session in working on appropriations and the state budget.

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We had some exciting events happen on the floor this week. We witnessed the proposal of Senator Henderson’s intern (she said yes). Senator Anderegg read an emotional citation honoring the Search and Rescue Dog Handlers that participated in the effort to find his missing niece – Annie Schmidt and bring closure to his family. ( https://goo.gl/5JL0ed )

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Senator Henderson sponsored a resolution honoring a true American hero and Utahn, Gail Halvorsen. The resolution read in part:

“during the Berlin Airlift from 1948 to 1949, Halvorsen, moved by the gratitude and resilience of the children living in that devastated city, dropped tiny handkerchief-sized parachutes filled with candy from his C-54 for the children of Berlin to chase down and collect — an act for which he was affectionately nicknamed the “candy bomber,” and, though he was nearly court-martialed for doing so, Halvorsen continued to make his candy drops for several months;”

“… almost 70 years later, Halvorsen’s service to the children of Berlin stands as one of the foremost examples of kindness and human compassion, bringing relief to a war-torn country and joy to children in need of a little bit of hope”

Sales Tax Collection

I wanted to take a moment to update you on one of my bills. 1SB 110 Sales Tax Collection Amendments

Sales tax applies to all Utahns no matter where they make their purchases, online or in store, but currently only brick-and-mortar stores facilitate the collection of the sales tax. States across the US are running into issues with collecting sales tax from online purchases, because only companies with a physical presence in a state can be constrained to collect and remit the owed sales tax. This creates an unfair advantage to online retailers.

This bill establishes under what circumstances retailers not physically based in Utah would be required to collect and remit sales tax by establishing an economic nexus. Previous legislation has tried to tie economic nexus to number of transactions from a state, this bill chooses to shy away from transactions and instead focusing on earnings from the sales. In the event that a retailer earns over $100,000 of sales in Utah, they are required to begin collecting sales tax because their economic imprint is substantial in Utah. For an affiliate, the threshold is $10,000 of sales in Utah before they are required to collect sales tax. This bill passed out of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee with a favorable recommendation.

I asked this question in my 2017 survey and wanted to share with you the results: – “Long standing current state law requires consumers to pay sales tax on online purchases. Which option of sales tax collection do you prefer?”

– Have the merchant collect sales tax on items at the point of purchase.  86.90%
– Have the consumer track sales tax and report it when they file their income taxes.  12.18%
– Have the merchant give the government a report of sales and then notify consumers of sales tax owed.   0.92%

I will share more survey results in the coming week.

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Bears Ears

This week we also debated HCR 11 Resolution to Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Sponsored by President Niederhauser

This week, the Senate debated a resolution that calls on President Trump to overturn President Obama’s Bears Ears decision.  The resolution sharply criticizes President Obama for using the Antiquities Act—which was designed to help protect Native American structures and objects—to set aside 1.5 Million acres of Utah land for environmental protection. Among other things, the resolution chides Obama for ignoring the wishes of the residents of San Juan County-many of whom are Native American. This resolution passed the House and the Senate and was signed by the Governor.

Video Updates

Each week I have been posting a short video on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/curtbrambleutah. Follow me for updates.

Please e-mail me with your thoughts on issues being debated. It is an honor to serve you.

Curt