Summit Council Member Reflects On Items Before Legislature--Affecting Seniors, Lodging Tax, More

Feb 17, 2020

Summit County Council Member Glenn Wright says they’re keeping an eye on a variety of proposals from the Legislature.    There are a couple of items affecting seniors, a couple on health services, and a gun bill that isn’t as controversial as it first appeared.

Glenn Wright said a Davis County legislator is working on a bill to protect seniors from scams.    The sponsor acted after a constituent was swindled out of $100,000.    Wright added phone scams are frequently reported in Summit County.

Details haven’t been finalized yet, but Wright discussed what the bill hopes to do.       

”It would force banks to take a little more notice of unusual transactions, particularly from senior citizens, so that—Most people don’t do large wire transfers.  It would have to go through a bank officer rather than just a teller.  And if you placed on the account other names that needed to be notified—not that they had to give permission, but just notified—they could call family and say, “Grandma, what’s happening here?”

Another issue in front of lawmakers is Alzheimer’s funding.        

“The Alzheimer’s Association managed to get something like $2.4 billion in federal appropriations for research.  If we had some seed money, for instance, at the University of Utah, where they have a neurology research clinic, that might bring in some federal research dollars for research into treating Alzheimer’s.”

Also on the topic of health funding, counties are supporting HB 38, which would extend Medicaid to individuals 30 days before they get out of jail.    And HB 32 provides funding for mobile mental-health crisis units.

Another proposal, HB 271, would pre-empt  firearms regulations set up by local governments.   Wright said the UAC membership supported this bill, including southern Utah areas.   

He said there’s a twist in the story behind the bill.     

“The feeling was it was originally aimed at Salt Lake County, when Mayor Wilson required the gun shows at the South Towne Expo Center to do background checks on everybody.   Reality is, it doesn’t, because that is purely a contract.   Salt Lake County owns the building and it’s a contract that they have the ability to enforce.  So they didn’t really propose any additional county-wide ordinances.”

And as it turns out, a conservative southeastern Utah county is also affected by the bill.       

“Uintah County is in the process of passing resolutions to be a Second-Amendment-supporter zone that would resist any future gun-rights restrictions.  And this would actually bring the regulation of firearms at the state level, and not allow local governments to be more restrictive.   From my standpoint, if we had the ability to make them more restrictive in Summit County, I would be in favor of that.  But I know that if we did, we would immediately get slapped down by the Legislature.   So the reality is this probably is a reasonable bill.”

Another proposal, HB 280, would stipulate that counties of the 4th, 5th and 6th Class could use Transient Room Tax funding  for law enforcement or EMS infrastructure, on the rationale that those services are impacted by tourism.

Wright said that Summit, in the Third Class, decided ultimately not to try getting coverage under this bill.   Wright said they don’t necessarily need the funding, but it would have been nice.      

“ We tried to get our Third-Class Counties added to that.   But we didn’t think it was worth risking the chance of the Fourth-through-Sixth Class.   So we supported the bill as it was.   We sent out some inquiries, “Can you include us?”  But they said if we do that, it may fail.  So in solidarity with our smaller counties, we said, “Go ahead, we’ll support this.”  (Leslie) But are you saying, we don’t need the money?  (Wright) Oh, we always need the money.  But let’s face it, they need it worse.  The southern-Utah counties are really hurting for EMS funds.”

Summit County Council Member Glenn Wright, who said the bill could run into resistance from the resort industry.