Looking back on the final week of the Session, let me just say that it is a blur in my mind. We passed a lot of bills and killed a few of them as well. Here are some major highlights.
Sales Tax Head Fake
Previously, there was a lot of deliberation and consternation regarding our sales tax policy and the idea of making changes to even out the volatility of revenues. As it turns out, the assumptions that lead to proposing the policy change in the first place were completely wrong. Fortunately, the policy came to the House where 75 brains were then put to work dissecting and critically analyzing the idea. In the end, the idea was abandoned because it was needless.
The House passed SB197 to help in the effort to improve air quality along the Wasatch Front. The bill provides sales tax exemptions for refineries to purchase equipment needed to convert their operations to Tier 3 fuel standards. Once converted, the improvement to air quality would be the equivalent of removing 4 out of 5 vehicles from the road. So, the impact would be substantial.
The bill gives the refineries a couple of years to move in this direction and the exemption is only good for equipment used to convert to the higher standard. Hopefully, this incentive will drive some positive changes in the coming years.
Protesters - Take Two
International Women's Day was during the last week of the Session. In a sequel to the Women's March during the first week of the Session, this second event was much more subdued. This time my own constituents came to the Capitol and sent in a green card to invite me out of the House Chamber to visit with them. I gladly obliged.
We had a great discussion even if we had two very different philosophical view points.
Letter Grades for Schools
Our body deliberated extensively a bill to revamp how schools are graded for public judgement. I am a big opponent of the letter grade system for schools because it glosses over so many aspects that make up a school community. I feel that we should do away with letter grades for schools and simply allow the statistics and attributes speak for themselves.
Mr. Peterson's Bills
HB23 - Rooftop Solar Tax Credit Phase Out - Passed out of the Senate. Ready for signature from the Governor.
HB24 - Student Prosperity Savings Account Tax Credit - Passed out of Senate. Ready for signature from Governor.
HB64 - Property Tax Relief Amendments - Passed out of Senate. Ready for signature from Governor.
HB73 - Child Placement Amendments - This bill did not get funded.
HB158 - State House Boundary Amendments - Passed out of Senate. Ready for signature from Governor.
HB270 - Inmate Housing Amendments - This bill will be discussed over the Interim.
Tweet of the Week
Heard in majority caucus: "When do we stop farting around and hold the Senate's feet to the fire." #utpol #utleg— Jeremy Peterson (@jpetersoninutah) March 8, 2017
VFFs - Vest Friends Forever - Rep. Adam Gardner and me.
Super Intern McKenzie Forbes and me in front of the Dias.
Rep. McKell, after adjourning, runs a faux resolution retiring SB54 from Legislative lexicon.
We play a parody of Credence Clearwater Revival's Proud Mary and roast our colleages
at 1AM on the House Floor after adjourning sine die.
This session was another year of growth for me as a Legislator. I took on some difficult bills and also learned a lot. This was my first year as Chair of the Government Operations committee and I believe we did a good job vetting the bills that came before us. We also had fun while we were doing it. I tried to keep our committee conversations upbeat and sprinkled with appropriate humor. I also discovered early in the Session that our political fabric is under great strain after my lighthearted comments were distorted to foment an eruption of bitterness and anger. I learned a lot from that. With that glaring exception, the Session was the mildest that I have yet to experience here on the Hill. Staff that I spoke to said that our Leadership teams ran the Session better than they can ever remember. So, hats off to Greg Hughes, Brad Wilson, Francis Gibson, and John Knotwell for their hard work keeping the Legislative process moving smoothly.
Now on to the interim and drafting new bills for 2018...