The 2023 Utah Legislative Session came to an end on Friday, March 3. Once again, we thank the Utah Legislature for their work and support of UDVMA and the Veteran and military communities we serve. Several bills and resolutions were passed this session that relate to or affect Veterans, service members and their families. We are pleased to see continued funding for the Utah Veteran First-Time Homebuyer Program, Veterans on Course, National Ability Center, and New Smiles for Veterans.
Other highlights from the session include increases to disabled veteran property tax waiver, improving the Veteran Tuition Gap program, enacting licensing compacts for teacher and physician assistants, and more. Below you will find a brief overview of bills passed.
H.B. 151 Veteran Property Tax Revisions
This bill, introduced by Chief Sponsor Representative Karianne Lisonbee and Senate Sponsor David G. Buxton, increases the amount of taxable value that a disabled veteran may have exempted from property tax from $252,126 to $479,504. This change will help ensure that this tax benefit for disabled veterans is not diminished and keeps pace with the increase in home and property values. This bill went into effect retroactively on January 1, 2023.
S.B. 35 Reciprocal Professional Licensing Amendments
This bill, introduced by Chief Sponsor Senator Curtis Bramble and House Sponsor Representative A. Cory Maloy enacts the Teacher Mobility Compact and the PA Licensure Compact.
The Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact (ITMC) is an interstate occupational licensure compact that allows teachers to use an eligible license held in a compact member state to be granted an equivalent license in another compact member state. It is a legally binding agreement among states that aims to lower barriers to teacher mobility and get teachers back into the classroom more seamlessly. Teachers holding a compact-eligible license can apply for licensure in another member state and receive the closest equivalent license without submitting additional materials, taking state-specific exams, or completing additional coursework.
The PA Licensure Compact is an interstate occupational licensure compact for physician assistants that aims to streamline the process of obtaining licenses to practice physical therapy across state lines. Participating states agree to recognize a valid, unencumbered license issued by another compact member state via a compact privilege. The compact benefits PAs by reducing the burden of maintaining multiple licenses, expanding employment opportunities into new markets, and improving continuity of care when patients or providers relocate. With this bill, Utah became the first state to join the compact.
H.B. 197 Higher Education Financial Aid Amendments
This bill makes various changes to provisions related to higher education scholarships in Utah. One program this bill changes is the Veterans Tuition Gap Program allowing funds to be applied to education-related supplies and housing allowances. The bill was sponsored by Representative Tyler Clancy and Senator Keith Grover.
S.C.R. 7 Concurrent Resolution Concerning the Northern Utah Veterans Cemetery Grant Submission
This resolution encourages the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs to submit a grant application for the construction of a new veterans cemetery in a location north of Salt Lake County. The resolution honors and recognizes the service of veterans and notes that many Utah veterans live in the northern part of the state. The Resolution was sponsored by Senator Ann Milner and Representative Katy Hall.
H.B. 249 Education Related Amendments
This bill, sponsored by Representative Karen Peterson and Senator Michael McKell, addresses parental engagement in the education arena including the creation of a parent portal. This requires the state board to post information on the portal that allows parents of students enrolled in a school to access various resources, such as policies related to bullying, resources for mental health services, options for making changes to a student's educational environment, and steps for filing a grievance. The state board is also required to include a comparison tool on the portal and may include other helpful information. The portal must also include information on services for military families.
H.B. 539 Veteran Property Tax Exemption
This bill amends the Veteran Armed Forces Property Tax Exemption in the state of Utah. by creating a process for a veteran with a 100% service-connected disability that is permanent and total to apply for a veteran armed forces property tax exemption before the veteran purchases a residence provided they have a purchase contract and meet other parameters outlined in the bill. H.B 539 was sponsored by Representative Jon Hawkins and Senator Michael McKell.
H.B. 503 Shooting Range Requirements
This bill, sponsored by Representative Doug Owens and Senator Chris Wilson, modifies provisions relating to shooting ranges including waiving fees at certain public shooting ranges for military service members, veterans, peace officers, and retired peace officers.
H.C.R. 7 Concurrent Resolution Supporting the Creation of the Great Salt Lake Sentinel Landscape
This resolution encourages the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs and its partners to apply for the establishment of the Great Salt Lake Sentinel Landscape. The resolution recognizes the importance of preserving open spaces in Utah, protecting Utah's military missions, and promoting shared conservation of the natural beauty of Utah. It describes the benefits of the Sentinel Landscape Partnership, which designates certain landscapes as critical to the nation's defense mission and to preserve the working economies and natural resources within designated Sentinel Landscapes. The resolution promotes shared values and equities of air and water quality, access and value of public open spaces, protection of natural infrastructure, and the rugged natural beauty of Utah. The resolution was sponsored by Representative Trevor Lee and Senator David Hickens.
H.B. 265 Sentinel Landscape Amendments
The Sentinel Landscape Amendments bill requires municipalities and counties in Utah to develop compatible use plans in consultation with the Department of Veterans and Military Affairs to ensure proposed land uses within a certain distance of military land are compatible with military uses. If a municipality or county receives a land use application related to military land, the Department of Veterans and Military Affairs must evaluate the proposed land use for compatibility with military operations and respond within 90 days. The bill also grants rule-making authority to the Department of Veterans and Military Affairs to create a compatible use plan. The bill was sponsored by representative Val Peterson and Senator Curtis Bramble.
H.B. 67 Title 71a - Veterans and Military Affairs
The bill aims to restructure, reorganize and rewrite provisions of Title 71 of Utah State Code entitled Veterans, while creating Title 71A, entitled Veterans and Military Affairs. The bill provides definitions, removes outdated language, standardizes the term "service member", and removes certain requirements such as the consultation with Veterans Advisory Council and the need for deputy directors to be veterans. It also clarifies eligibility for veterans preference, job retention for public officers called to serve in the armed forces, and makes technical and conforming changes.