Jan 18, 2023 - News

Water, housing affordability and tax cuts: Utah lawmakers kick off 2023 legislative session

Illustration of the Utah State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

State lawmakers kicked off the 2023 General Session Tuesday with a clear message: Making Utah more affordable for residents.

  • Utah's fast-paced, 45-day session will run until March 3.

The big picture: State lawmakers are looking to tackle a myriad of issues, like raising teacher wages, increasing affordable housing and cutting taxes to help Utahns weather inflation.

  • Last year, lawmakers reduced the state income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.85%. This year they hope to cut even more taxes.
  • Introducing water policies to reverse the Great Salt Lake's demise is also a big focus for state lawmakers this year.

Meanwhile, the state also faces a nearly $2 billion budget surplus that lawmakers must help allocate.

What they're saying: "Here in Utah we have the distinction of being both one of the fastest-growing and driest states in the country. That leaves little room for error in how we manage our growth and our water," House Speaker Brad Wilson said at the Capitol Tuesday.

  • Senate President Stuart Adams said he looked forward to addressing housing affordability policies like bringing back state assistance financing for first-time home buyers.
  • "One of the most dramatic events coming out of COVID-19 was the effect on the housing market," Adams said. "... I am personally concerned that we are losing our middle class. We must find ways to get more people out of apartments and into their first home."

The latest: State Rep. Karen Kwan (D-Murray) won a special election on Monday to replace state Sen. Karen Mayne (D-West Valley City).

  • Mayne recently announced her resignation, citing health concerns.

What we're watching: Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-Alpine) is sponsoring a controversial bill that would ban gender-affirming care for children.

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