In the month of July, the interim committees met once again on Wednesday, July 18th. The judiciary committee had on its docket discussion of the sex marker change bill for birth certificates, but due to the tyranny of the clock had to postpone the discussion until next month's meeting in August. The Business and Labor Committee met to discuss peer-to-peer storage rentals and to hear two bills that were scheduled for special session that afternoon regarding off-premise beer retailer licensing and the Inland Port Authority.
Usually I get this report out a little sooner, but I was engaged this week with the Midvale Harvest Days Committee, Midvale's Summer Concert in the park, and tabling for the Transgender Inclusion Project at Damn These Heels LGBT Film Festival.
The Transgender Inclusion Project fully supports the Sex Change Marker bill being sponsored by Senator Weiler as long as there are no age restrictions, no residency restrictions, and no surgery restrictions, and as long as nothing else untoward pops up. The bill needs to be as simple as getting your gender marker changed on your passport.
I have also spoken to a couple of legislative candidates and fully have their support in that the health insurance law in Utah needs to be changed so that the final determination of medical necessity is between a physician and their patient, especially if there are medical association or academy guidelines that outline the criteria for medical necessity and they have been met. It should be neither the insurance company nor the insurance board that has that final right of determination, even in selecting an arbiter.
Here's a summary of the Utah Business and Labor Interim Committee meeting:
Peer-to-Peer Rentals: Storage Rentals
Joseph Woodbury, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Neighbor, testified using some short clips with neighbors describing their product. Neighbor connects individuals with unused space in and around their homes with those that need a little extra space. Neighbor began in Utah just a little over a year ago and their storage is about half the cost on average of a traditional storage unit. According to Mr. Woodbury, peer-to-peer storage rentals allow a community to build economy without building additional space. Neighbor has grown to employ over a dozen Utah residents. One of their hosts was skeptical at first, but he has since enjoyed using Neighbor.
Coy D. Porter, State Fire Marshal, State Fire Marshal Division, pointed out a few things that are of concern to the fire service. Fire loading is a big problem. Also, when a fire investigation is done, marshals have to get a warrant for the owner and all the storage rentals in order to be able to investigate a fire of a suspicious nature. Gunpowder, fireworks, and reloading powder also have no inspections done.
Dori Phillips, Government Relations Chair, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, deferred her time to a representative from Bear River. Bear River's policies are homeowner policies and not business policies, and as such there’s a lot of exclusions in the homeowner policies they issue. The representative thinks there needs to be an intermediary insurance like Uber and Lyft carry.
Joseph L. Doherty, Senior Vice President, Legal and Legislative Counsel, Self Storage Association, testified that his organization is a trade association. Self-storage facilities employee several thousand residents of the state of Utah. Mr. Doherty believes that there is a risk of non-payment similar to self-storage rentals and there are potential issues with insurance for the homeowner and the renter. He believes there will ultimately be insurance solutions made available by the marketplace.
Draft Legislation “Off-premise Beer Retailer Licensing Amendments”
Senator Jerry W. Stevenson, sponsor of the bill, is hoping this is the simplest alcohol bill that has ever been run in the state. The bill allows Alcohol Beverage Control to issue a permit while a site is under construction so that they can sell alcohol the day they get their occupancy permit. As of July 1, beer retailers, such as convenience and grocery stores, have to get their permits after the store is ready for occupancy on the next day that ABC grants permits. The bill was recommended favorably to the special session and signed by the Governor on July 21.
Draft Legislation “Utah Inland Port Authority Amendments”
Representative Francis D. Gibson sponsored this bill, composed mostly of technical changes as a representation of several stakeholders getting together. According to Representative Gibson, it is an opportunity for Utah to put itself in an unparalleled economic situation, and hopefully would increase imports and exports to the United States through Utah. He sees an inland port being able to work with existing government entities as a hoped for economic boon. Representative Gibson worked with various government entities to define what land use authority looks like. The bill spells out that national and state environmental standards must be met or exceeded. It also provides for an annual report to municipalities in how development to the north is occurring. Airport land has been removed from the port authority and business and organizational organizations may be represented as non-voting members. This bills designates that a minimum of 10% of the property tax differential must go towards affordable housing. It has unanimous support from the Salt Lake City Council. Concerns around this bill involved lack of community input in the decision-making process, environmental controls, erosion of the Salt Lake City Council’s land use authority and taxing authority, the ability of the Port Authority to question the cost of city-supplied services, and the lack of representation of the Magna Township on the Port Authority Board. Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski appeared to make a plea against the bill because the underlying issues were not met and that it required the cities to put into their ordinance complete agreement with the bill. She was castigated by the committee for not meeting to iron out details. Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall testified that while the Salt Lake City Council was in agreement with the mayor, especially over the abrogation of powers, they felt that since the legislature was treating it as a done deal that they needed to view it as a last chance to make things better. This bill was signed by the Governor on July 21.
The next interim meeting is scheduled for August 15 at 1:15 pm in the Utah Senate Building. The meeting schedule and transcripts are available at http://le.utah.gov
Always in Service,
Sophia Hawes-Tingey is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Transgender Inclusion Project, Legislative Liaison for the Utah Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the Co-Chair of the Business and Labor Committee of the Women’s State Legislative Council of Utah, member of the Board of Directors for the Utah Stonewall Democrats, the Vice Chair of the Community Council of Midvale, and co-founder of People Empowered, LLC. You can visit Sophia’s webpage at http://www.sophiahawes.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.