by Howard Stephenson

The Utah Taxpayers Association annually issues legislative report card to its members and the public. This year’s scorecard rates legislators on 15 key tax and spending related bills in the House and 13 in the Senate .

The average score in the House was 74%. Eleven Representatives scored 100%: Brad Daw, Margaret Dayton, John Dougall, Jim Ferrin, Craig Frank, Greg Hughes, Mike Morley, Merlin Newbold, Curt Oda, Patrick Painter, and Aaron Tilton.

The eleven lowest scores in the House were Ralph Becker – 31%, Brad King – 38%, Neil Hansen – 38%, Ros McGee – 43%, Dave Litvack – 43%, Duane Bordeaux – 43%, Larry Wiley – 47%, Carole Moss – 47%, Kory Holdaway – 47%, Neal Hendrickson – 47%, and Tim Cosgrove – 47%.

The average score in the Senate was 86%. Seven senators scored 100%: Lyle Hillyard, Scott Jenkins, Mark Madsen, Darin Peterson, Howard Stephenson, Dave Thomas and Carlene Walker.

The five lowest scores in the Senate were Karen Hale – 58%, Patrice Arent – 58%, Scott McCoy – 62%, Ed Mayne – 69%, and Fred Fife – 69%.

Absences were not included in vote totals. An upper case “Y” or “N” indicates a vote in support of association’s position, a lower case “y” or “n” indicates a vote in opposition to the association’s position.

Votes Considered for the 2006 Utah Taxpayers Association Scorecard

HB53 (Harper) – Electable Single Sales Factor Apportionment of Business Income to Utah – Reduces taxes on Utah’s high wage, exporting companies through a targeted reduction in corporate income taxes for businesses that employ and produce in Utah but export goods and services to other states. Rejected in House 37-37.Association Position: Support

HB53 – 1 st sub (Harper)– Electable Single Sales Factor Apportionment of Business Income to Utah – Same as original bill but is phased in over 5 years. Approved by House 49-22, Approved by Senate 20-5. on second reading calendar, tabled on third. Association Position: Support

HB126 (Buttars) – County Option Sales and Use Tax for Open Land – Would allow Box Elder, Cache, and Sanpete counties to impose a voter-approved 1/8% sales tax increase with revenues earmarked for open space preservation. HB126 is a so-called “temporary pilot project” tax increase. Rejected by House 28-40. Association position: Oppose

HB181 (Urquhart) – Education Reform – Promotes bonus pay for teachers and provides Utah Basic Skills Competency Test remediation results-based vouchers for students who fail the test. Approved by House 44-31, Approved by Senate17-11. Association Position: Support

HB181 – (motion to concur with Senate amendments) Education Reform Approved by House 39-33. Association Position: Support

HB309 (Hughes) – Municipal Energy Sales and Use Tax – HB309 restricts city revenue growth from municipal energy tax on natural gas to 10% per year based on the previous year’s collection. Revenue exceeding 10% will be proportionately rebated to ratepayers in December of the following fiscal year. Approved by House 68-1. Approved by Senate 26-0. Association position: Support

HB323 (Ferrin) – Individual Income Tax rate Reduction – This bill would reduce the top income tax rate from 7% to 6.72%, resulting in a tax cut of $27 million in 2007 and $100 million in 2008. Approved By House 42-25, Approved by Senate 26-3. Association position: Support

HB338 (Dougall) – Property Tax Exemption for Business Personal Property – Will exempt personal property for taxpayers with total personal property of less than $3,500. The bill is designed to simplify the process of tracking personal property depreciation for small business owners. Approved by House 68-0, Approved by Senate 27-0. Association Position: Support

HB371 (D. Clark) – Transient Room Tax Amendments – Allows Utah’s 28 counties to increase Transient Room Tax rates from 3.0% to 4.25% and removes sunset of Salt Lake County’s increase of last year. Salt Lake County intends to use about $40 million of the additional 1.25% TRT funding to subsidize a soccer stadium. Approved by House 47-28. Approved by Senate 21-6. Association Position: Oppose

SB29 (Bramble) – Sales and Use Tax Exemption – Telecommunications

SB29 exempts certain purchases and leases of telecommunications equipment from state and local sales tax. UTOPIA and IProvo are exempt from these taxes, creating a tax inequity. While SB29 does not address all tax inequities between UTOPIA/IProvo and private sector telecom companies, SB29 is an improvement over the status quo. Approved by House 64-4, Approved by the Senate 28-0. Association Position: Support

SB31 (Stephenson) – Sales and Use Tax – Manufacturing and Industry Exemptions Amendments – SB31 extends the existing manufacturing exemption to include repair parts with useful life of three years or more. According to current statute, replacement parts that extend the life of manufacturing machinery qualify for the exemption, but repair parts do not qualify. Approved by House 71-0, Approved by Senate 25-0. Association Position: Support

SB33 (Stephenson) – Sales and Use Tax Exemptions and Refund for Certain Business Inputs – Extends the manufacturing exemption into extractive industries and IT.Exempting business inputs is sound tax policy, and exempting business inputs for high wage, export-oriented industries like manufacturing is sound economic development policy. Approved by Senate 26-0, Association Position: Support

SB34 (Dimitrich) – Gross Receipts Tax Amendments, Repeal and Public Utility Tariffs – SB34 repeals the “second” gross receipts tax that was imposed on Intermountain Power Agency and PacifiCorp in 1995. No other companies or individuals pay this punitive tax.

By passing SB34, Intermountain Power and PacifiCorp will be receiving a tax cut that everyone else received eleven years ago. The tax reduction will be passed on to the rate payers. Approved by House 71-2, Approved by Senate 26-0. Association Position: Support

SB89 (Stephenson) – Sales Taxes on Repairs of Personal Property. Approved by House 64-5, Approved by Senate 26-0. Association Position: Support

SB175(Senate) (Stephenson) – Correctional Facilities Bidding Process – Would allow for private minimum security prisons. Approved by Senate-18-8. Associaion Position: Support

SB175(House) (Stephenson) – (Motion to Uncircle) Correctional Facilities Bidding Process – Would allow for private minimum security prisons. Rejected by House 38-28. Association Position: Support

SB179 (Stephenson) – Exemption on Sales of Boats and Vehicles to non- residents – Clarifies sales tax exemptions on vehicles purchased by out of state owners. This allows Utah auto/boat dealers to continue to sell vehicles to out of state companies and individuals without being at a competitive disadvantage.

Approved by the House 68-0, Approved by the Senate 27-0. Association Position: Support