Yong Itto, owner of Itto Sushi in Midvale, prepares sushi for a takeout order on March 25, 2020. The Utah branch of the National Federation of Independent Business last week released voting records for lawmakers in the ‘State on seven small issues. -business prominence gained in the 2021-2022 session of the Utah Legislature, indicating that Utah may be the most small-business-friendly state in the nation. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY – Silicon Slopes attracts most of the fanfare and headlines, but Beehive State is also home to a bustling small business scene that’s boosted by laws designed to support small businesses.
That notion was bolstered when the Utah branch of the National Federation of Independent Business last week released state lawmakers’ voting records on seven issues important to small businesses taken during the 2021-2022 session of the Utah legislature.
“The story that I think our voting record tells is that Utah is, overall, a very small-business-friendly state and we want people to know that,” said Casey Hill, director of the of Utah for the National Federation of Independent Business.
Hill said 14 senators and 36 representatives had 100% perfect voting results.
“That means that of the seven bills that we included in our vote tracking, they voted 100%, seven for seven on those bills,” Hill said, adding that there were many politicians additional who were six out of seven or not. qualify on the scorecard because they couldn’t vote.
Having a legislature made up of people who are “not professional politicians, but people who pass laws and then have to go back to their district and live with the laws they passed” is a big reason why the Utah is such a small, business-friendly state, Hill said.
“When 74% of (the) entire legislature has small business voting records of 80% or higher, I think any other state would be hard-pressed to match or beat that,” Hill said.
He added that many of the people who pass laws are either small business owners themselves or have been involved in small businesses in some capacity and on a personal level.
“They understand the challenges a small business owner faces,” Hil said.
Nine other senators and 18 representatives racked up voting records in the 80th percentile while the Senate’s lowest score was 71% and the House’s lowest score was 43%.
“Overall, our state is very supportive of small businesses and has done a lot to try to lower taxes, reduce regulatory burden, and promote business growth in Utah,” Hill said. “You see that’s reflected in our state’s economy…we’ve come back from the pandemic faster than most states and we’ve come back stronger than most states.”
This has led to issues that result from a thriving business landscape that Utahns have experienced all too recently: growth.
“The growth and the needs that are being created as a result of growth through infrastructure and some of the labor challenges that we face, those are all really positive issues that we have and they reflect a legislature who over the last few years has made some really good decisions,” Hill said.
Yet a growing population that’s a challenge for Utah’s counties, cities, and towns is also a challenge for small businesses.
An ever-growing population can also bring other carpentry problems. For Utah, that sounds like a rising cost of living and an ultra-competitive housing market.
“One of the challenges that small business owners face…they want to create a job and they want to grow and they want to take their business to the next level, but find someone who can afford to live in the region where their business is located can be a significant challenge,” Hill said.
Finding ways to lower the cost of housing will be crucial to increasing the success of Utah’s small businesses, he said.
“These people who want to work for (small businesses), make sure they have the ability to afford to live in our state,” Hill said.