SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature will take on some pressing issues over the next year, including whether to cut taxes again, respond to the ongoing drought and re-examine the state's medical cannabis program.
At a meeting of the powerful Legislative Management Committee, which is made up of Republican and Democratic legislative leaders, a priority list was advanced of topics to take up over the next year leading to the 2023 legislative session.
For Senate President J. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, it is Utah's economy and how to handle it.
"What are the best tax cuts?" he told FOX 13 News. "Maybe next year we might have another, 2023 might be the year of the tax cut again. We want to make sure that’s feasible."
Lawmakers passed a modest income tax cut in the 2022 session that ended in March. The committee also voted to review tax incentives the state hands out to lure companies to Utah, including tax breaks for tech companies, sports teams and venues.
Other study items:
- The nonprofit status of some health care systems and whether they give out enough charitable care
- Reacting to Utah's record low unemployment but also rising costs of living and growth
- Affordable housing and short-term rentals, which cut into housing availability
- Highway safety and transit development projects
- School vouchers will be re-examined following a bill that was defeated in the 2022 session
- Election systems and requirements to vote
- Reforms for mentally ill people caught up in the court system
- Unpaid child support
- DUI laws following Utah's .05 blood alcohol level
- A new state park in the Oquirrh mountains
Water and drought will be an ongoing issue.
"For example, Great Salt Lake and water needs? We have to address those things," said House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City. "We have to address air quality, we have to address water quality and we have to do it sooner rather than later."
The Legislative Management Committee agreed to open an inquiry into a potential overhaul of Utah's medical cannabis system. A commission will be created to evaluate oversight of the system that voters approved when they passed Proposition 2 in 2018, but the legislature created when it overrode the ballot initiative.
The irony of the legislature's move on 4/20, the unofficial marijuana holiday, was not lost on members of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education. Christine Stenquist, the group's founder, said she supported the commission's creation and hopes it leads to positive changes for patients.
"I would really like us to focus this program like it was intended. We’ve got a lot of players who are making a lot of money, but we need to open up those licenses and make this affordable for patients," she told FOX 13 News.
The Legislative Management Committee was also briefed on constitutional challenges filed as a result of bills passed by the legislature. They include lawsuits dealing with redistricting, abortion restrictions, the inland port, stream access, and disruption of public meetings.
Rep. King asked legislative legal counsel if a lawsuit had yet been filed over the bill banning transgender children from participating in school sports.
"Not yet," he was told.