Utah State Legislature votes to repeal tax reform bill

File photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 28, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah State Legislature voted to repeal the controversial tax reform bill S.B. 2001 Tuesday morning.

The House voted 70-1, and the Utah State Senate voted 27-0 to repeal the bill.

Gov. Gary Herbert is now expected to sign the bill in the next day.

Critics of the bill, who said parts of S.B. 2001 unfairly increased the tax on food, penalizing those who can least afford to feed themselves, said they had collected 152,000 signatures from across Utah to get a referendum on the ballot. The Lt. Governor’s Office reported Tuesday morning that 117,154 signatures had been validated. That is more than the threshold needed to get on the November ballot.

Gov. Herbert, House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams first announced the bill’s repeal Thursday.

“… The first topic of discussion will be repealing Senate Bill 2001,”  Herbert said of the 2020 legislative session, in his monthly news conference Thursday.

“As we’ve gone through this process, the people, in fact, have not agreed with the tax reform proposal based on referendum and the signatures being gathered,” Herbert said.

“And rather than having a cloud hanging over the legislative session — as far as what does that do to our budget, what’s the long-term ramifications — in talking with the Senate President and the Speaker of the House, yesterday we decided the best course of action, reflecting the will of the people, is in fact to go back and push the restart button, go back to square No. 1, repealing Senate bill 2001 and starting over.

“I think we’ve learned some lessons in this process, and I think that will, in fact, serve us well going forward.”

Herbert, President J. Stuart Adams and Speaker Brad Wilson issued the following statement Thursday regarding the full repeal of S.B. 2001:

As elected officials, we are committed to crafting policy that addresses the challenges we face, enhances the quality of life for all Utahns and has the support of the public. In recent weeks, it has become clear that many people have strong concerns regarding legislation passed in December to restructure and revise our tax code. They expressed their concerns by signing a petition to include a referendum on the ballot later this year. We applaud those who have engaged in the civic process and made their voices heard. We are not foes on a political battlefield, we are all Utahns committed to getting our tax policy right. That work is just beginning.

When the 2020 general legislative session opens Monday, legislative leaders will introduce a bill to repeal the changes made in the special session. The intention is that the bill will be ready for the governor’s signature before the completion of the first week of the session. Once the repeal is signed into law, the legislature will begin work under the reinstated tax code to prepare the fiscal year 2021 state budget. Repealing S.B. 2001 will enable the legislature to draft the budget without the uncertainty of a referendum potentially changing the tax code midway through the budget year.

The original challenge we worked to address lies before us still. Crafting the right policy is critical to our state’s long-term success. Utah has never shrunk from a challenge and, working together, we will chart the right path forward. We will take time to reset and address this issue in the future in a way that allows all Utahns to fully understand the challenge we face, engage in the debate over the best solutions and, ultimately, enact policy that best positions Utah for decades to come.

We are elected to represent our constituents by understanding the issues we face as a state, debating proposed solutions and adopting the right policies. We are encouraged by the high level of interest in this issue and we hope those who signed their names to the petition—and all Utahns—will be engaged as we work together to craft the right policy.


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