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Government Affairs

The Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) works closely with local, regional, state, and federal governments to promote legislative priorities and implement policies. WFRC works with its members and partners to support sound policies that are centered around or tied to transportation, such as land use, economic development, and air quality.

For additional information regarding government affairs, please contact Miranda Jones Cox. 

Current Legislative Information

June Legislative Interim Meetings

The Utah Legislature continued to meet during the month of June for interim committee meetings. They will continue to meet monthly now until November to receive reports, study issues, and craft legislation for the 2023 General Session.

Of note at the Transportation Interim Committee’s meeting on Tuesday, June 14th, the Committee received a report from the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) regarding Free Fare February. Jay Fox, UTA Executive Director, discussed the positive impacts on ridership during the month of February when fare collection was suspended. Fox also highlighted how UTA collaborated with WFRC, MAG, Salt Lake City, and major employers and institutions to cover the gap in lost farebox revenue. This is not the end of the free fare discussion, as WFRC, in partnership with the Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG), UDOT, and UTA, is conducting a comprehensive Zero Fare Study to examine the feasibility of such a fare structure in the future. The study includes examining the community impacts, operations, capital requirements, and safety and security, and is expected to be published this fall.

Additionally, the Committee received a report on large infrastructure projects being overseen by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and UTA. As you may recall, HB322 (Public Transit Capital Development Modifications) gives UDOT responsibility over capital projects at UTA, including project planning for FrontRunner and Point of the Mountain. While UDOT has responsibility over delivery of public transportation projects, UTA will continue to coordinate closely with UDOT and operate the UTA system. Supporting ridership is a joint goal of both organizations in efforts to support economic growth, improve air quality, and offer travel choices.

Key Pieces of State Legislation

SB140 Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zone Amendments (2022)

SB140 authorizes a limited expansion of Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zones (HTRZ) to light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) stations.

HB462 Utah Housing Affordability Amendments (2022)

HB462 is intended to help Utah address its significant challenges on housing availability and affordability through changes to moderate income house plan requirements (SB34), station area planning, changes to internal accessory dwelling units, and other various changes. 

HB433 Amendments Related to Infrastructure Funding (2021)

HB433 Authorizes $1.1 billion in investments in state roads, public transit and active transportation through a combination of the authorization of new bonding and the appropriation of available one-time revenues.

SB217 Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zones (2021)

SB217 HTRZ is intended to get “all hands on deck” to help Utah tackle its housing crisis by facilitating development in the key areas of FrontRunner stations, capitalizing on the anticipated State investment to improve FrontRunner.

SB150 Transportation Governance and Funding Amendments (2020)

SB150 enhances the coordination of transportation, housing, and land use at TOD sites; and modifies provisions related to UTA; transportation funding including TIF/TTIF and TRZs; UDOT’s RUC program; local option transportation sales taxes; class B&C road funds; transportation network companies; and tollways.

State Legislation Archive (pre-2020)

SB34 encourages local communities to plan for housing for residents of all income levels, and coordinate that housing with transportation. Communities are required to develop a moderate income housing (MIH) plan as part of their general plan. Communities that are required to annually report on their MIH plan implementation must satisfy these requirements to remain eligible for state transportation investments.

Downloads and Helpful Links

SB72 is a follow up to SB136 (2018) and addresses some policy and some technical issues, including making the allowable uses of local option sales taxes for transportation more flexible and consistent across the “quarters”; adjusting UTA and UDOT governance and nomination process; authorizing state transportation capital funds to be used for active transportation projects; establishing guidelines for the road usage charge program; and further describing Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZs).

Downloads and Helpful Links

Senate Bill (SB) 136, co-sponsored by Senator Wayne Harper and Representative Mike Schultz, is a significant, positive step forward for the future of the Wasatch Front region and state. Utah is growing and changing, and with that comes the need to efficiently use resources to provide transportation choices for our communities. SB 136 provides efficient use of limited resources, as well as a systematic approach to transportation planning that considers both land use and economic development throughout the state.

Downloads and Helpful Links

On March 12, 2015, the Utah State Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 362 Transportation Infrastructure Funding, and on March 27, Governor Gary Herbert signed the bill into law. This law reformed the state fuel tax to keep pace with inflation and provided local communities with the tools to help address their transportation needs. HB 362 was the first law in 18-years to modify the state fuel tax and the first in state history to comprehensively fund road, transit, bike, and pedestrian infrastructure. HB 362 contained two main provisions: 1) reform and increase of the state fuel tax and 2) local option sales tax for transportation.

Downloads and Helpful Links

Federal Legislation and Policy

Federal Infrastructure Bill

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provides $1.2 trillion in infrastructure funding, of which $550 billion is new funding above baseline levels over five years for roads, bridges, rail, transit, ports, airports, water, broadband, and other infrastructure programs. The bill also includes a 5-year surface transportation reauthorization.

Federal Transportation Reauthorization Principles

Utah’s transportation agencies and partners have jointly developed a set of Federal Transportation Reauthorization Principles. We worked together to develop these key principles for a multi-year reauthorization that reflects Utah priorities with an eye toward Utah’s unique needs.

Key State Policies

Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zones (HTRZ)

Utah State law enables a portion of incremental tax revenue growth to be captured over a period of time to support mixed-use, multi-family and affordable housing development within a 1/3-mile radius of UTA FrontRunner stations.

Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZ)

Utah State law authorizes the creation of a TRZ by two or more public agencies by interlocal agreement to capture increased property or sales tax revenue generated by a transportation infrastructure project. TRZs are a tool to assist local governments with the funding and implementation of transportation infrastructure.

Local Option Transportation Sales Taxes

Utah State law authorizes the imposition of local option sales taxes for transportation, which is sometimes referred to as “quarters” because generally they are 0.25% tax rates. These local options provide funding for city and county roads and active transportation needs, as well as public transit.

Cache of Government Affairs Outreach

Bill Tracker

WFRC tracks bills that especially impact transportation and communities along the Wasatch Front during the legislative session.

Legislative Session Wrap-Up

WFRC monitored relevant legislative activity related to transportation and its nexus to land use and economic development during the legislative session.

Contact Information

Miranda Jones Cox
Government Affairs Manager

Wasatch Front Regional Council
41 North Rio Grande Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

Cell: 435-691-3043

 

 

 

 

 

 

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