If Utah legislators want to be good to the business community this session, they need to remember the lesson of last year's failed tax intiative, said Gary Hansen of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
Hansen, director of government affairs for the Chamber, thinks the tax revoltsent a "no new taxes" message that will bring good news for the business community down from Capitol Hill this legislative session."The rumblings that we are hearing are that it will be relatively safe ground for business this time around," Hansen said. "There's always something, but we're not expecting any major problems.
"But we got a message out about taxes. Several legislators have told me that they got the message, and I believe them."
But Dale Zabriskie, president of a local public relations firm and a member of the Utah Board of Regents, said while money remains tight, legislators need toremember that the tax revolt movement failed. For the good of the state, education funding should be a priority.
"Legislators need to not give taxpayers what the voters denied them at the polls. We ought not to give surpluses away," Zabriskie said.
Beyond the regular financial concerns, among the hot issues Hansen and other business leaders mention as they look to the 1989 legislative session are cutting governmental red tape for small businesses, changing the form of county government and amending the state's fraud statute.
The chamber board is supporting a bill to set up a public hearing process to allow incentives for small businesses. The proposed regulatory flexibility law would define a small business as a firm with 50 or fewer full-time employees or less than $1 million in gross sales annually. It would allow small-business owners to testify at state regulatory hearings about the effect new regulations will have on them, and officials could consider exemptions for the smaller firms.
The business organization also supports a bill that would allow options for the structure of county governments while not extending a county's taxation authority.
The chamber opposes legislation that would charge additional fees for revenue enhancement or require mandatory rehabilitation in workers compensation cases. Hansen said a 1985 California industrial rehabilitation bill cost employers $4 billion. "That's a clear indication of why we're opposed."
Larry Bunkall, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, said industry officials are supporting bills to protect company trade secrets and define rights of employees who are inventors off the job.
Laury Alder, president of the Utah Bankers Association, said his group is supporting an amendment to the state fraud statute to eliminate the binding power of oral loan agreements. Insurance and securities industries are backing a proposed amendment to Utah's one-action rule.
In addition, financial industries are looking to amend Utah's one-action rule on foreclosure of loans, which now requires lenders to foreclose on the collateral.
"We're trying to leave primary residences in place, but give the borrower and lender the option to foreclose on other assets," he said. The law creates a problem now with the popular home equity loans, where lenders are forced to foreclose on the residence, when the loan was actually taken out to buy a boat or some other asset.
"It creates a problem for both the borrower and the lender. There may be some times when you are willing to have them foreclose, but you don't want them to foreclose on the pledged property because of circumstances."
Alder said Utah is one of only four states that still has the one-action rule on the books."