5 things upcoming in the Utah Legislature

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 22, 2014 at 11:50 am •  Published: February 22, 2014
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CAUCUS SYSTEM CHANGES

The Utah Senate has endorsed legislation touted as a compromise between supporters and opponents of the state's caucus and convention system for nominating political candidates. Provo Republican Sen. Curt Bramble's bill requires political parties to adopt changes to make the caucus nominating process more inclusive, such as allowing absentee voting. If they don't make the changes, they will have to nominate candidates through a primary election. But a group backed pushing to abandon caucuses and conventions in favor of primaries says the bill circumvents their efforts to let voters decide the issue. The group, called Count My Vote, is gathering signatures to get their initiative on the November ballot. But because Bramble's bill took the exact language of their initiative petition, and tied it to qualifiers, it could nullify their effort, even if voters approve it, they said. The Utah Senate approved the bill Friday, advancing it to the House.

SALT LAKE CONVENTION HOTEL

A bill aimed at luring the builder of a large hotel near the convention center in downtown Salt Lake City is set to come up for debate in the House early in the week. The bill cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday when it won unanimous approval from a House economic development committee. The proposal authorizes up to $75 million in public money to go toward tax rebates to a developer building a hotel with 850 to 1,000 rooms. Rebates would only be available if the hotel generates tourism revenue, and they could only be used to cover the cost of public spaces, such as convention meeting space. The House killed a similar bill last year, but this year's proposal has the backing of GOP leaders in that chamber, including House Speaker Becky Lockhart of Provo. Supporters say the extra hotel and meeting space is needed for the state to attract large conventions. Opponents, including existing hotels, argue taxpayer money shouldn't go toward the project.