Wednesday, September 21, 2016

UPDATE: Interim Session - September 2016

We had our monthly interim session meetings today to discuss burgeoning issues.  Here is a recap of my meetings.

Revenue and Taxation Meeting

We had two controversial items on the agenda today that warrant mentioning.  The first involved a presentation by the Governor's Office of Economic Development regarding tax credits issued to businesses who purchase equipment for the purposes of recycling.  The presentation was short and very focused on the administrative side of the credit.  However, our committee was more interested in the history of the credit and whether it warranted support or needed changes.  We specifically prodded GOED for details and they could not provide any on the merits of the program.  Here is a sample of that prickly conversation (my comments at 4:30):

The other issue on the agenda dealt with the recent Facebook tax incentive fiasco in Salt Lake County.   The conversation is spritied but quite euphemistic and esoteric.  Yet, if you know what you are listening for, its all here:

Majority Caucus

We had a couple special visitors to our lunch meeting today.

Donald Trump Jr. dropped by momentarily to say hello and offer a small stump speech.  He said he wants his father to win because we need a "disruptor" in the White House to change the course our country is on.  I agree with him on that point.  However, if Trump Sr. wins, we need to discuss the details of what exactly needs disrupting and how.

 We also were visited by Mark "Oz" Geist who served in Benghazi and was in the firefight to protect our ambassador during the attack of September 2012.

The Fight for Utah's Public Lands

We did receive a report from the chairmen of the committee overseeing Utah's lawsuit to regain control of its public lands.  Interestingly, we learned that while the media has hyped a $14 million cost for the litigation, to date the Legislature has spend just under $950,000 on the effort.

Government Operations Meeting

In today's meeting we touched on a few issues.  One issue involved embezzlement from a state employee who bilked taxpayers out of $800,000 over a decade.  Our committee discussed what state entities were doing to improve oversight and accounting procedures. Unfortunately, the state auditor indicated that there are likely other cases out there that have yet to be discovered.

We also discussed the minutia regarding when ballots are counted and discussed ideas on when the exact cutoff should be for ballots to be turned in.  There is a discrepancy between when rural post offices and urban post offices are able to process postmarked ballots they receive.

This is the update for now, but look forward to more exciting things to come...

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