The winners and losers of the 2017 Utah Legislative session

Sunday , March 12, 2017 - 5:00 AM

Standard-Examiner Staff

A record number of bill files were opened by the Utah legislature this sessions, which wrapped up at midnight, March 9. 

As with anything in politics, the results of this session created political winners and losers. In Northern Utah, we took at look at four groups who will be significantly affected by the passage — or defeat — of certain bills this session. 

Nearly all the laws passed by the legislature await Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature, so while they seem likely to come to fruition, there’s still a chance for veto. Spokespeople with Herbert’s office have declined to indicate if there are any bills he plans to veto. 

STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS

Though a measure to raise the state's income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.875 percent didn’t pass, Weber School District Superintendent Jeff Stephens commended lawmakers for their educational funding decisions, calling this the “most positive and most supportive” legislative session he has experienced in the last six years.

A bill striking language in the state's sex education law banning "advocacy of homosexuality” also passed this session. Pending Herbert’s signature, districts say they’re ready to adjust curriculum. 

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THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY

Alcohol, as is frequently the case, was a big focus the 2017 Utah legislative session. The Zion Curtain measure passed to the delight of many restaurateurs, but their celebration was short-lived as lawmakers also passed the strictest BAC level for drivers in the country. 

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LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS

The tax on food would have gone from 1.75 percent to 4.4 percent but it didn’t really see the light of day. Then again, the same happened for a bill that would have raised minimum wage. 

“It’s a little bit upsetting because it’s hard,” said Pamela Scott of Ogden, picking out food at the food bank with her husband. “It seems the poor have to stay poor.”

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AIR QUALITY AND ENVIRONMENT

While Wasatch Front residents rank Utah’s poor air quality as a top priority, that sentiment did not appear to have translated into significant legislative action during the 2017 session.

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