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Past Utah State Legislative Victories

Date: May 25, 2014

From before 2008 to 2011/2012 sessions

From the 2011-2012 Session

Lowered Unemployment Tax Rate by 2 percent
NFIB was instrumental in lowering the rate from 9.4 percent down to 7.4 percent retroactive to January 1, 2012. This gives incentives
to business owners to grow and invest more in their business and employees.

Stopped Plan to Broaden Sales Tax to Include Services
Stopped the extension of sales tax to additional services such as bookkeeping, haircuts, and legal fees.

Defeated Proposed Increases in Gas and Food Taxes
NFIB defeated measures to increase the sales taxes on gasoline and food were stopped in their originating committees.

Won Changes to the Utah Healthcare Exchange
NFIB succeeded in getting technical corrections making health care more affordable for small business into the Utah
Health Care Exchange, which many other states are looking to as a national model to emulate.

2010 NFIB/Utah Legislative Victories

Defeated all attempts to raise taxes to plug the state’s $1 billion deficit
Small business owners are always worried when there is a budget deficit, because one of the easiest ways to fill the gap in the budget is to increase various different taxes. The only tax increase that the Legislature approved in 2010 was an increase in the tobacco tax. We were able to convince the lawmakers to hold off on any increases in sales, gas, and other taxes.

Defeated legislation that would have removed the vendor discount for collection of sales tax
NFIB played a key role in the defeat of legislation that would have removed the vendor discount for collection of sales tax. This discount was implemented to help defer the cost to the vendor in collection of sales tax. Several Legislators were pushing this as a means to make up money for the deficit.

Won major healthcare reform
More transparency and the ability to select products either in the Exchange or in the traditional market were two huge victories for NFIB. No organization or association has more knowledge on this issue than NFIB, because its members have ranked affordable healthcare their No. 1 concern for more than two decades. So it was only natural NFIB/Utah would take a part in shepherding passage of House Bill 294, authored by State Rep. David Clark, through its committee hearings, floor votes, and on to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk. In brief, this historic healthcare reform will:

  • Provide access to the Department of Health’s all payer database for research
  • Clarify the restrictions and protections for identifiable health information Require health care facilities to post prices for patients
  • Consolidate reporting by the State Insurance Department Require the insurance commissioner to convene a group that will review claim denials for plan comparison Require cooperation of state departments in developing additional changes
  • Define what types of health plans that are to be offered within the Exchange Allow small employers the choice of selecting insurance products in the Health Insurance Exchange of in the traditional market outside of the Exchange
  • Prohibit insurers in the defined contribution market from treating renewing groups as new business, subject to premium rate increases, based on the employer’s move from the traditional market into a defined contribution plan in the Health Insurance Exchange
  • Create a producer in the defined contribution market
  • Modify underwriting and rating practices in the small group market inside and outside of the Health Insurance Exchange Re-authorize the Health System Reform Task Force for one year.

NFIB also helped win passage of healthcare legislation that clarified the type of health insurance coverage that is required in order to contract with the state for certain construction related contracts and amended the definition of qualified health insurance coverage to clarify the standards.

Won tort reform legislation on non-economic damages
NFIB helped pass legislation that amends the cap on non-economic damages that may be awarded in a malpractice action. The bill requires an affidavit of merit from a healthcare professional to proceed with an action if the pre-litigation panel makes a finding of non-meritorious. An affidavit of merit is a requirement in some jurisdictions, primarily in medical malpractice claims, to have an expert file an affidavit stating the claim has merit. It is a measure enacted to deter frivolous lawsuits. When a plaintiff in a medical liability lawsuit does not file an affidavit of merit with the complaint, the case may be dismissed. This legislation also limits the liability of a health care provider, in certain circumstances, for the acts or omissions of an ostensible agent. An ostensible agent is a person who has been given the appearance of being an employee or acting (an agent) for another (principal) that could make anyone dealing with the ostensible agent reasonably believe he/she was an employee or agent.

Secured favorable changes to state contracting legislation
NFIB played a key role in passage of 1st Substitute House bill 20. This bill amends state code related to the requirement that contractors with certain state entities must provide qualified health insurance to their employees and the dependents of the employees who work or reside in the state of Utah. The bill clarifies that the application of a waiting period for health insurance may not exceed the first of the month following 90 days of the date of hire. This bill clarified that the qualified health insurance coverage already being required by law must be a minimum standard but an employer may offer greater coverage. This bill also cleaned up language defining the qualified health insurance coverage that the state required, amended enforcement provisions for good faith compliance and clarified how an employer offering a defined contribution through the exchange would comply.

Defeated legislation expanding unemployment benefits
NFIB worked hard to defeat legislation that would have provided that unemployment benefits not be denied to an individual solely on the fact that the individual was seeking part-time work. This bill would have required increased payments to the state in order to cover the additional cost.

2009 Victories

Won historic health-care reform
Small business owners who currently can’t afford to provide healthcare for their employees—more than half, on a national average—just received a heap of great news that will make it easier for them to do so. No organization or association has more knowledge on this issue than NFIB, because its members have ranked affordable healthcare their No. 1 concern for more than two decades. So it was only natural NFIB/Utah would take a part in shepherding passage of 2nd Substitute House Bill 188 through its committee hearings, floor votes, and on to Gov. Jon Huntsman’s desk. In brief, this historic healthcare reform will:

  • Allow insurers to offer lower-cost health insurance products to the individual and small employer group markets that do not include certain state mandates which drive the price of premiums up
  • Create a lower-cost Utah NetCare Plan alternative to federal COBRA and state mini-COBRA plans
  • Require health-insurance brokers and producers to disclose their commissions and compensations to customers prior to selling a health plan
  • Provide for the creation of an Internet Portal and orders the Insurance Department to include in its annual market report a summary of the types of plans sold through the Portal
  • Establishment a defined-contribution arrangement on the Portal that will be available to small employer groups on Jan. 1, 2010 and larger groups Jan. 1, 2012
  • Give a wider range of choices of health plans for everyone by Jan. 1, 2012
  • Amend the timing required by hospitals for sending billing information to patients
  • Create a demonstration project and establish a committee for innovating the payment and delivery of healthcare
  • Require health benefit plans to issue to enrollees a printed card containing health plan information
  • Require health benefit plans to provide information sufficient for a health care provider to determine the compensation or payment terms for healthcare services
  • Provide greater transparency on plan benefits, provider-networks, wellness programs, claim-payment practices and solvency ratings. When everything is up and running, individuals and small business owners alike will be able to log on to the Portal and compare every health plan feature and enroll in the one they like.

Won new law simplifying healthcare information between consumer, provider, and insurer, which will eventually lead to swipe-card technology.
NFIB also helped pass another healthcare reform law, House Bill 165, that requires the Insurance Department to convene a group of providers and payers in order to establish standards for the electronic exchange of health plan information using card swipe technology which is compatible with national electronic standards.  This bill prohibits an insurer from requiring less than one business day’s notice of an emergency in-patient hospital admission and amends the period of time in which an insurer can recover an amount paid to a health care provider when the insurer determines the payment was incorrect.
 
Won passage of a joint resolution of the Utah State Legislature preserving the right to vote in secret on union elections.
NFIB played a key role in passage of 1st Substitute House Joint Resolution 8, which proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to include elections under state or federal law for public office, on an initiative or referendum, or to designate or authorize employee representation or individual representation among the elections that are required to be by secret ballot. This resolution will be on the November 2010 ballot.
 
Defeated all attempts to raise taxes in order to plug the state’s $1 billion deficit.
Facing a $1 billion deficit in the state budget, the temptation was great, but NFIB succeeded in discouraging legislators from raising taxes on businesses in Utah. As a result, not a single tax increase passed.  
 
Helped win new law adding local entities to the Utah Public Finance Web site, so the public can better track where their tax money goes.
NFIB pushed for passage of 1st Substitute Senate Bill 18, requiring local entities to participate in the Utah Public Finance Website. By making the public financial information available on the Internet for participating state entities and participating local entities, the Utah Public Finance Website allows taxpayers the ability to view, understand, and track the use of their dollars.

2008 and prior victories

 

HB 77: Personal Property Tax Amendments
Requires the creation of a depreciation schedule for specific classes of taxable tangible personal property. 

HB 37: Utah Business Resource Centers Act
Provides for the establishment and administration of business resource centers provided by the Governor's Office of Economic Development

HB 75: Inventory and Review of Commercial Activities
SB 45: Inventory for Competitive Activities of Local Entities
SB 38: Transparency in Government
Addresses the problem of government competition with private business.

HB 133: Health System Reform
Creates a Health System Reform Task Force that will continue to work towards solutions that address high health care costs and access to health insurance. 

HB 53: Impact of Administrative Rules on Small Business
Requires a state agency to consider methods to minimize the impact of an agency's proposed administrative rule, if the agency reasonably expects the rule will have a measurably negative fiscal impact on small businesses. 

HB 77: Personal Property Tax Amendments
Requires the creation of a depreciation schedule for specific classes of taxable tangible personal property:

    • Allows an individual to elect to designate certain taxable tangible personal property as "expensed personal property" for valuation and taxing purposes.
    • Defines the following terms:
      • Acquisition Cost: All costs required to put an item of tangible personal property into service including, purchase price for new or used items, the cost of freight and shipping, the cost of installation, engineering, erection, or assemble and sales and use taxes.
      • Expensed personal property: An item of taxable tangible personal property that has an acquisition cost of $1,000 or less and an individual elects to have assessed according to the schedule below.
      • Item of taxable tangible personal property: Does not include an improvement to real property or a part that will become an improvement.
      • Short life expensed personal property: An expensed personal property that is the same type as the following personal property:
        • Short life property
        • Short life trade fixtures; or
        • Computer hardware
    • Allows the Tax Commission to make rules defining the terms "item of taxable tangible personal property," "short life property," "short life trade fixture" and "computer hardware."
    • Requires the Tax Commission, beginning Jan. 1, 2010, to develop a depreciation schedule for short life expensed personal property.
    • Allows an individual to elect to designate taxable tangible personal property as expensed personal property.
    • Prohibits a county from requiring an individual to itemize the individual's expensed personal property.
    • Requires that if audited, a taxpayer shall provide proof of the acquisition cost of the expensed personal property.
    • Prohibits a designation as an expensed personal property from being revoked.
    • Requires an individual to pay taxes according to the taxable value determined by the schedule posted by the Tax Commission.
    • Requires an individual who sells or otherwise disposes of an item of expensed personal property prior to the period in the schedule, to continue to pay taxes according to the schedule posted.
    • Requires an individual, who elects to designate an item of taxable tangible personal property acquired before Dec. 31, 2008, as expensed personal property at a time after the first year after the item is acquired, to pay taxes according to the taxable value determined by the schedule for a time period that equals; the time period designated on the schedule less the time period beginning when the person acquired the item of expensed personal property and ending when the person designated the item as short life expensed personal property.
    • Prohibits an individual who elects to designate taxable tangible personal property as expensed personal property in accordance with the schedule, from appealing the values described in the schedule.
    • Requires for the taxable year beginning on Jan. 1, 2009, and ending on Dec. 31, 2009, the taxable value of short life expensed personal property to be calculated by applying the present good factor against the acquisition cost of the property as follows:


Short Life Expensed Personal Property Schedule

Year of Acquisition Percent Good Factor of Acquisition Cost
2008 69 percent
2007 52 percent
2006 30 percent
2005 17 percent
2004 11 percent

Requires for taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2010, that the taxable value of short life expensed personal property to be assessed according to a schedule developed by the commission in accordance with Title 63, Chapter 46a and the Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act.

HB 37: Utah Business Resource Centers Act
The legislation creates the Utah Business Resource Centers Act, a partnership between the Governor's Office of Economic Development and state institutions of higher education to establish business resource centers.  These centers will coordinate economic development activities in a geographical area of the state and measure economic impact.  The centers will act as a resource for small business.

HB 75: Inventory and Review of Commercial Activities
HB 75 addresses the membership of the Privatization Policy Board allowing business to have additional members.  The legislation clarifies the duties and responsibilities of the Board and gives them direction and accountability.

SB 45: Inventory for Competitive Activities of Local Entities
SB 45 requires the disclosure of the inventory of activities that county and city entities provide that will be studied by the Privatization Policy Board.

SB 38: Transparency in Government
SB 38 creates the Utah Public Finance website to provide public financial information and requires that it be administered by the Division of Finance.  The legislation requires state entities to provide public financial information that will be accessed through the Utah Public Finance website.  This bill creates the Utah Transparency Advisory Board and sets up the implementation and administration of the Board along with duties.

Saved small business owners time and money by passing legislation exempting tangible personal property valued at $3,500 or less from the personal property tax
Counties were spending more for auditors' wages than the dollar value brought in on tangible personal property with value of $3,500 or less. Small business-owners spend valuable time away from work while an auditor is on site. This NFIB sponsored legislation becomes a win win for both the small-business owner in lost work time and the counties in saved wages. 

Supported changes in health insurance for easier access and cost reduction
NFIB supported the passage of a bill that would require the Utah Public Employees Health Plan to provide a health savings account option to the employees of the state. This will hopefully force the hand of the Insurance carriers to produce a product that will work for small business also. HSAs allow the employer and employee to contribute to an account in which the employee chooses how to spend their health-care dollars. These are offered along with high deductible health plans.

Kept payroll costs down by preventing a minimum-wage increase
The minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage. NFIB defeated three bills that would have increased the state minimum wage. Small-business owners prefer that the market drive wages. If an employer is not successful at monitoring what he needs to pay his work force, turnover will be high and production will decrease while new employees are constantly being trained. Most businesses in the state pay higher than the minimum wage already.

Prevented $250 million in future taxes to fund state employee benefits
NFIB/Utah stopped a massive tax increase that would have been used to cover the costs of sick leave for state employees. State employee sick leave costs have shot from $8.8 million in 2001 to $16.3 million and were projected to quadruple in the next 10 years to $250 million. Passage of HB 213 brings the costs of government under control and prevents tax increases to cover future costs of employee benefits.

Defeated a $76 million tax increase, limiting local government's taxing authority
NFIB/Utah helped defeat a bill that would have given local governments more taxing authority. This bill would have resulted in a one-fourth percent increase in the sales tax to fund highways and transit projects. SB 183 was stripped of the sales tax increase, saving local businesses a great deal of tax money -- as much as $76 million.

 

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