Thursday, March 6, 2008

Session Wrapup Report

Greetings friends and neighbors,

I thought you might like to know what actually happened this session relative to property taxation issues and how the effort fared.

"It is 2 a.m. and the session is over. Despite our efforts, little was accomplished on the property tax side with the exception of killing bad bills such as tax deferral and creating special benefits for limited numbers of property tax payers.

We did introduce the AV concept but there just wasn't any urgency felt on the part of legislators to deal with property taxes.

Legislators were much more concerned about illegal immigration because that poses the most immediate threat to their reelection. People who would never have voted for an immigration bill were falling all over themselves to cast votes on these bills in order to show that they are doing something.

This is a good lesson for us. We need the same urgency if we are to pass property tax reform. Also, we need a carefully planned "messaging" program in order to get property taxes through. Many immigration bills passed because we put the focus on identity theft and got the veterans groups involved.

Property tax bills that passed included Harper's HB54 which requires annual (computer assisted mass) reassessments in the bigger counties, SB29 which makes relatively minor changes in Truth In Taxation (drops the voter approval for tax increases above inflation thanks to our legislature), and SB38 - Transparency, which now only applies to state government. (The Association of Counties. Utah League of Cities and Towns , etc. and their lobbyists killed accountability of County Governments. Another example of our tax money being used to lobby against we the people, yet for hiding accountability from we the people.)

The extra sessions of the Revenue and Tax Committee that were to study property taxes was rolled in with a couple of task force bills as HB490. That bill died on the House calendar so there is no formal authority for extra sessions of the Revenue and Taxation Interim committee to study property taxes. When I talked to Senator Niederhauser around 1 a.m., he indicated that the funding had been set aside for five extra Rev and Tax Committee sessions and he thought that he could get the extra committee sessions without a formal resolution.

The bill to replace the school portion of the property tax with the sales tax went no where and the property tax for reading programs was not repealed.

For those of you in St. George, Senator Hickman announced that he will retire from the Senate at the end of his current term. The word is that Steve Urquhart will go for his seat. I hope this makes sense. It is late and I'm really tired."

Thanks Ron from us all. You should be in the legislature if the people in Davis County only knew who and what they were voting for....


Minor Machman

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