SALT LAKE CITY – The 2020 Utah legislative session opened Monday at 10 a.m.
Republican leaders announced last week that the first order of business would be to repeal the unpopular tax reform bill passed in a special session last year. If two-thirds of the lawmakers approve to repeal the bill, taxes would remain at last year’s rates.
Sen. Scott Sandall, R-District 17, said although he voted in favor of the tax reform bill, repealing it is the right course of action.
“I trusted the forecasting. I still trust the forecasting by the people at the state,” he said. “I think it’s going to take some time during the legislative session to try and evaluate. The problem didn’t get solved, it’s still there. We’ve just have to look for a different solution.”
Sandall will get plenty of opportunity to look for different solutions as the senate chair of the Business, Economic Development, and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee.
“The tax question will be front and center in that committee,” he said.
In addition to taxes, Sandall is looking at ways to “spur on economic development in rural counties of the state.”
The Wasatch Front has been the center of economic development for years and Sandall admits legislators “haven’t done a good job” helping rural communities compete for businesses and create more jobs.
“I have been involved with most rural county economic development directors trying to come up with what they think will help push the needle and we are excited about seeing if we can get this done,” he said.
Sandall said he is proposing old programs be phased out in rural communities and new ones implemented to incentivize businesses to expand into some of the smaller cities in the state. Federal and state funding in the form of grants will be available for communities willing to bring local dollars into the mix.
When it comes to getting money on the federal level, Sandall said there is something residents of Utah can do to help out.
“People need to be aware that April 1 starts the census,” he said. “It’s going to be online driven and it is super important that people participate in the census. It’s how we draw down our federal funding. It’s how we plan for roads and how we plan for so many things. We need people to be involved in getting counted in every corner of our state.”
The 2020 legislative session will last 45 days. More than 250 numbered bills have already been filed.