The 2016 legislative session has shaped up to be one of strong positioning for Utah restaurants. We had a bit of damage control to do early on in the session but are continuing to make lasting relationships of trust with our political allies at the Utah State Legislature. Please keep in mind that the URA is moving our issues forward with patience, understanding that the political process is one that moves slowly and must be handled with care and respect. The Utah Restaurant Association has been making a difference in Utah politics and for our industry for over 70 years. We understand the legislative process and represent you as one of the most respected trade organizations working with legislators on the hill today. We are taking proactive measures working with local organizations as well as state lawmakers to help protect restaurants best interests on a daily basis at the local, state, and national levels.
The issues to promote and protect the restaurant industry are broad and far reaching. The URA continues to address the need for meaningful improvements to Utah’s liquor laws. We are always arduously working on representing the restaurant industry in the finest light possible. We are also tracking nutrition bills, health codes, usage fees, taxes and we constantly and consistently tell our restaurant industry story as one of the strongest and largest contributors to not only Utah’s economy (4,600 locations with over 110,000 employees and sales that are now $3.4 Billion) but the world economy as a whole. The URA is well aware and fully understands the urgency at which small business owners, restaurateurs and patrons would like to see policy changed but this is a process. Working together as a strong united voice with respected representation the URA will do more than chip away or throw rocks, together we are strong enough to bring down any barriers that make it challenging to do business. I urge those of you that would like to understand more fully the legislative process to call our office and join our efforts.
The 2016 session was one of “do no harm”. With a $42 million dollar shortfall from expected revenues, lawmakers were scrambling to get a budget finalized. The budget was not actually approved until late on March 7, 2016. The URA ProStart program was highly prioritized and received full funding. ProStart is now fully implemented in over 62 of Utah’s High Schools and we have more requests for the 2016-2017 school year. The Utah Tourism industry maintained their $15 million dollar appropriation to promote the state of Utah. The URA sponsored legislation aimed at improving the issuance of a Utah drivers license. The request was to require that a young person must acquire an adult drivers license when they turn 21 regardless of when they receive their original license. If a young person obtains a license at the age of 16 then they must re-new when they are 21 and receive an adult license however if they wait past their 16th birthday, then they can still be using a MINORS drivers license even though they are an adult. The fiscal note on the bill was high and the bill was abandoned. HB 251 became very controversial and the restaurant industry in the state had very differing opinions on the use (or non-use) of non compete agreements. HB 251 was negotiated in the final days of the session and passed on the last day!
If you want information on these or other legislation of interest to you, don’t hesitate to call the URA office and we can provide you a status update. The URA is already working on issues for the 2017 session so please let us know if you have issues that you would like to be addressed.