It won't cost you extra to rent "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Lawmakers turned Spoiler of the Lost Art when they turned thumbs down on a proposal to charge a 2-cent tax on video rentals to fund arts education.
Revenue raised from the tax - anticipated to be from $500,000 to $1 million annually - would have gone to fund dance, performing arts, music and literature in public schools all across Utah."I don't know of any parents in this state who are not willing to pay two cents on their videos to fund the arts," said one PTA spokeswoman.
But there were several businessmen in the audience who did oppose the bill, saying the profit margin in the video rental business is thin, and that a 2-cent tax could, in many cases, cut into their profits as much as 20 percent.
And lawmakers agreed. "If we learned anything from the last election it is that our constituents want decreases in taxes, not increases," said Rep. Kevin Garn, R-Layton.
The House Revenue and Taxation Committee defeated the bill by a voice vote. "We knew it was a long shot," admitted one disappointed supporter.
- Senators approved a bill Monday that would change the way Utahns select the State Board of Education. By a wide margin, senators approved a screening process for school board candidates. The bill now goes to the House.
Under the proposal, Gov. Norm Bangerter would appoint a committee in each of the nine school board districts. The committee would screen candidates for the post, sending not fewer than three and not more than five names to the governor.
The governor, in turn, would pick, in his opinion, the two best candidates and they would face each other on the general election ballot, the winner getting the post.
The Utah Constitution says the school board will be elected. Bangerter favors changing the Constitution to allow gubernatorial appointment to the board, much like he appoints the Board of Regents, which oversees the state's colleges and universities. But Bangerter supports the screening process as the best alternative to direct appointment.
- The House Education Committee acted Monday to change regulations governing the use of public school space for child-care programs. HB22 would allow schools to count day-care children when calculating usage to meet the state's 70 percent law.
Rep. David Jones, D-Salt Lake, who sponsored the bill, said passage of the more liberal policy would have a double benefit in that child-care services could be increased. He said schools are natural neighborhood centers that are ideal for such activities.
The bill also would remove a provision included in the original passed last year that limits child-care centers to the use of only 5 percent of a school's space. That figure "was pulled out of the air," Jones said, and is not sensible.