Friday, March 10th, 2017
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The 2017 Utah legislative session has come to an end and I’d like to take this time to give everyone an update on how things wrapped up. We will update this post later today with more detailed information but wanted to get a quick summary out to everyone as they get their Friday started. This session saw over 1200 bills filed, a record for Utah, with 535 passed…another record. This means over 665 bills never passed with a majority of them never even making it off the drafting table or being heard.
As the session began, we had 6 bills which affected our industry and 2 of those were bills the UTSFA requested to help our shops maintain sampling and demonstration while at the same time, protect the industry against underage sales through electronic age verification. Unfortunately our bills never saw the light of day due to tremendous opposition from the retail merchants associations, all health groups and other organizations that did not have the best interest of the industry in mind.
Representative Ray’s tax bill was dead before it was even heard in committee. The bill to increase penalties was withdrawn to undergo further investigation into where the real problem with underage sales is originating from. The bill to raise the use age to 21 for tobacco products was defeated in committee but not before Representative Eliason presented the most comprehensive truth on the vapor industry I’ve ever heard from a Utah representative (HUGE kudo’s to him on that!). Lastly, the bill which would have shuttered over a dozen small specialty business owners was negotiated into a good bill to protect dozens business owners along with the 100+ staff they employ. Disappointingly, that bill did not get heard in the final hours of the session and they ran out of time to get it across the line.
Overall, it means this session really didn’t happen as there were no additions or changes to any laws affecting the industry. This doesn’t mean we didn’t fight however. Our lobbying team are the true hero’s this year and fought hard to keep the industry alive and without any negative impact – this is demonstration of the power in a great lobbying team!
All in all, this was a very successful session and one that ended with little fanfare and nothing negative against the industry. Again, we’ll post a more comprehensive update later today but hopefully everyone can rest a little easier today.by