On January 18th, Vest Pocket members and guests gathered for breakfast at CousCous Mediterranean Grill in Murray to hear Deseret News political columnists and professional lobbyists Frank Pignanelli and LaVarr Webb talk about the upcoming 2018 Utah legislative session affecting local independent businesses. Pignanelli and Webb have spoken at Vest Pocket’s legislative warm-up breakfasts for several years.
Webb opened by highlighting the top priorities for Utah business this session:
• Tax reform in general — especially federal tax reform and its impact on Utah, with the federal government expected to return more federal money back to Utah.
• Comprehensive State tax reform— the current tax system was developed in the 1950’s based on a manufacturing-based economy and does not reflect the service-based economy of today. The legislature will also be looking seriously into adjusting the sales tax rate and opportunities to collect sales tax.
• Personal Property tax — Legislators are considering changing the business personal property tax system substantially (this is an issue Vest Pocket will be advocating strongly about during the session)
• Real Property tax—Utah has fairly low real property taxes compared to other states. Some legislators have a concern that real property taxes may be too low.
Webb said that the mantra that is being heard over and over is “Broaden the Base, lower the Rates.”
Other areas of interest Webb touched on for the upcoming legislative session included six citizen ballot initiatives:
• “Tolling” the Canyons—Vehicle tolls will be discussed as a way to increase the number of people using public transport or carpooling to keep fewer people from driving up the canyons. Little Cottonwood Canyon road is the most dangerous for potential avalanches.
• Funding for schools—there may be a proposed dramatic increase in school funding. There is also a ballot initiative proposal in place. Surplus tax funds are being looked at as possible source. “Our Schools Now” is heavily supported this year by large teacher groups.
• Medicaid Expansion— this issue is getting close to being another initiative on the ballot. It would expand eligibility to persons with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level.
• Medical Marijuana— this may be another ballot initiative, and it is getting close to having enough signatures to being on the ballot.
• Air Quality— on the Salt Lake Chamber’s top list of priorities.
• Transportation Bill and governance of the UTA—proposed change to a three-member, full-time commission, rather than the current 16-member board.
Webb added that “all of these [ballot initiative] issues are important and have been debated, but not yet dealt with, by the legislature. This is the people’s way of doing so.”
Pignanelli, an attorney, lobbyist, and political adviser, was one of the youngest ever in Utah to be elected to a Utah state office, serving in the House of Representatives for 10 years.
He began by reiterating the issue of property tax, stating, “I think you are definitely on to something, (referencing Vest Pockets advocacy committee’s progress in the area) it will impact counties, but this session is being driven by the six initiatives.”
According to Pignanelli, the initiative that has the best shot is the “Our Schools Now” initiative, due to the fact that the supporters are well funded and have a large network of teachers backing it. Pignanelli said, “You really need to talk to your lawmakers, think about what connections you may have. You need to be engaged in the process, tell your story.”
Business-focused bills that Pignanelli highlighted included:
• Market Place Fairness (a/k/a “e-fairness”—the 2018 legislature is unlikely to return to this issue because the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the South Dakota case on this issue and will make a ruling by the end of 2018.
• Food Tax adjustment—while there is some public sentiment to remove the food tax entirely, the legislature may actually increase the sales tax on food
• Certified tax rates—watch for impact on small business.
• Non-compete clauses – while already limited by law to one year, the legislature may, in the future, restrict them with respect to the types of employees subject to them.
• Panhandlers in the Rio Grande neighborhood in SLC —Rep. Hughes has made a difference in this situation. Pignanelli said in his recent visit to 600 West, the area looks drastically different.
• Alcohol bill—the allowable blood alcohol limited will be reduced to .05 effective December 30, 2018. This law will change businesses that serve alcohol. There is also some question on changes to insurance liabilities.
House Speaker Greg Hughes has announced he will not be running again, but it is evident that he wants to run for Governor in 2020.
Other Business bills:
• Single person sign-off through the Department of Commerce.
• LLC – a proposal to allow registration as a “benefit LLC”
• Air Quality—harder to recruit businesses now due to air quality concerns.
Pignanelli wrapped up by saying, “Communicate your concerns, reach out to smaller chambers, and businesses, create a coalition and approach the law makers, this will drive interest for them to do something.”
Two decades ago, Vest Pocket Business Coalition was started by a group of local business owners that needed advocacy help to fix a challenging parking ordinance. A grass-roots coalition formed to address the issue and they were successful. In the last 20, years Vest Pocket has advocated for countless local businesses on a variety of issues.
The name Vest Pocket was chosen because the term “Vest Pocket” brings to mind local businesses in our neighborhoods that hold close to our hearts, which is where a vest pocket is located. Once explained, the meaning is clear. However, it is worth considering this question: Will business owners (who haven’t yet heard of our organization) immediately grasp who we are and what we do based on our organization’s name?
In other words, does the name clearly and accurately signify what brings us together as local, independent business owners? Should the name be changed to help Vest Pocket be more effective? In light of these questions, we’ve been considering whether a name change might be in order. This topic is particularly important today as Vest Pocket works to increase its influence and advocacy work throughout the Wasatch Front and beyond.
The important thing is how you, our members, feel about this. Therefore, we need your feedback. Please click the link below and complete the short survey. Please let us know whether you favor a name change, and if so, which name(s) you think would best represent the organization that you’ve come to know as Vest Pocket Business Coalition. We will compile the results before the end of the year and report back to you on the results.
Thanks in advance for taking a moment to complete this survey, and thanks for your support of local, independent businesses!
Vest Pocket Business Coalition
http://vestpocket.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/VP-Survey1.png6301200Vest Pockethttp://vestpocket.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/vp-logo.pngVest Pocket2017-12-18 05:53:462017-12-18 05:57:18Should Vest Pocket Change Our Name? We Want Your Input
Four members of Vest Pocket’s Board of Directors attended Monday’s joint Utah House and Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee hearing to urge lawmakers to reform the Business Personal Property Tax. The issue was the biggest area of concern voiced by attendees of Vest Pocket’s October small business advocacy planning meeting.
Vest Pocket’s Doug Burton (President), Carol Elliott (Advocacy Chair), and John Lair (board member) were in attendance at the Capitol on Monday to testify about the burden the tax imposes on Vest Pocket’s member businesses.
Click below to listen to audio of Vest Pocket board members speaking during the meeting.
Speaking before the committee, Burton noted that many Vest Pocket members are in the retail and light manufacturing business and are burdened by not only having to pay the tax but also by the enormous amount of time required to inventory and assess the value for hundreds or thousands of individual items and to complete the required paperwork.
“Taxes should not put local, small businesses out of business”
– Vest Pocket’s Carol Elliott
Vest Pocket Advocacy Chair Carol Elliott (owner of Paletti, a local women’s clothing boutique), emphasized the impact of small business in Utah, noting that “small business hires more people in Utah than any other type of business and money that is spent in local business stays in the cities and in the state.” Elliott added, “We are the ones that hire other local businesses to (provide) services.” Elliott urged the commission to look at modifications to the code that would make it fairer for the small business community. “Taxes should not put local small businesses outof business,” she added.
Board member John Lair (President and CEO of Momentum Recycling) detailed how the tax had unfairly impacted his company. “Amongst other services we provide in the area we do all the glass recycling for Utah and the wider intermountain region.” Lair said: “We’re a very asset-heavy business, very akin to a manufacturer and so the issue that we have is two-fold. One is an issue of inequity. As a business with conveyors and hoppers and screeners and crushers, we pay tax that our friends with a similar revenue profile in software development and professional services don’t pay. So there’s a built in inequity as we talk about tangible personal property that’s taxed whereas intangible is not.”
Lair noted that the recycling industry has seen a lot of rough years. “In 2016 we had a loss in our business, and yet we still had to pay $32,000 in Business Personal Property Tax.” Lair added: “We had to borrow money and lay off an employee in order to cover this tax. That’s not how it should work in the state of Utah.”
Referring to the inequitable enforcement of the tax, Lair noted that there are many businesses that aren’t even aware of the tax and have never paid it or haven’t paid it for years. “They first learn about it when the auditor first comes into their business,” Lair said.
Burton cited two examples of the stringent application of the tax by auditors, as reported to him by Vest Pocket members:
The taxation of artwork hanging in a tea shop – artwork that the tea shop didn’t even own as it was on loan from the artist
An antique dining table that was a family heirloom that became subject to taxation because a set of business plans sat atop the dining table for a few minutes while the business owner met with the tax auditor
“This is the type of taxation that we feel is overly punitive and we don’t believe it represents the commitment that Utahns have for supporting small businesses,” Burton added. “Many of these are family-run businesses that have been in these families for generations.”
“This is the type of taxation that we feel is overly punitive and we don’t believe it represents the commitment that Utahns have for supporting small businesses”
– Vest Pocket President Doug Burton
Most lawmakers in the Committee hearing agreed that a total repeal of the Business Personal Property Tax would require a (state) Constitutional Amendment. As an alternative, Vest Pocket supports the modernization of the tax code to include the provision that any item valued under $1,000 would be exempt from an itemization of valuation for tax burden.
In its deliberations, the legislative committee discussed another possible reform option: a $30,000 deduction off the wholesale valuation of personal property for a business. Vest Pocket would also support this modification.
Click here to listen to an audio clip of the afternoon session of the hearing.
Following the hearing, Elliott added: “It is important that we continue to work with the taxation committee and the state tax commission with suggestions and ideas to make this a more equitable tax and to continue to level the playing field with big business and stress the importance of local small business and all they offer to their communities.”
Stay connected with Vest Pocket Business Coalition as we continue to follow this issue and others affecting your business ahead of the 2018 legislative session.
Be sure to attend Vest Pocket’s January 2018 Legislative Warm-Up Breakfast (date to be announced soon) to learn more about bills that may affect small business as well as more info about the progress on this issue.
http://vestpocket.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/VestPocketAdvocacy.png250250dburton_90067so9http://vestpocket.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/vp-logo.pngdburton_90067so92017-12-01 04:20:092018-06-27 06:03:53Vest Pocket Board Members Pushed For Reform of the Business Personal Property Tax at the Utah State Capitol on Nov. 27
On Nov. 8, 2017, Vest Pocket Business Coalition presented “My Business Is Out To Get Me! Reducing Stress and Finding the Work/Life Balance.” During this workshop, presenters Steven Beal and Debbie Coleman walked attendees through a custom workbook to help them create a personal action plan for:
Finding a work/life balance
Finding time for exercise
De-stressing during a stressful work day
Making time for personal growth (rejuvenation and more sleep!)
Reconnecting to one’s passion — the thing that inspired the business owner to start his or her own business
The title sponsors for the Vest Pocket event were Richards, Brandt, Miller, Nelson. Additional sponsors include Local First.
Click below to listen to audio of the November 8th workshop.
Steven Beal & Debbie Coleman’s Recommended Resources
Everyday Enlightenment: The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth – By Dan Millman
TED Talks on shame and vulnerability – By Brené Brown
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead – By Brené Brown
Rising Strong – By Brené Brown
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are – By Brené Brown
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom – By Rick Hanson
RickHanson.net – website with lots of useful information and practical self-help tools
Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being – By Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi
Manifesting Change: It Couldn’t Be Easier – By Mike Dooley
Steven Beal, Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Trauma Therapy Hypnosis Practitioner
Steven’s approach includes a life-long commitment to learn as much as possible to help teach a balanced approach to wellness. With the knowledge that we are much more than a single aspect of expression in our personal life, Steven believes we must also approach wellness from a multi-dimensional perspective. He adds, “By creating balance between the mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and energetic elements that exist in all of us, we attain our own best personal wellness.” Steven’s certifications include:
• Trauma Therapy Neurokinesis – Certified with Prolympian
International Trauma Coaching
• Reiki Master Teacher
• Registered and Certified with the National Guild of Hypnotists
• Personal Fitness Trainer – Certified AAFA Trainer
• Yoga Instructor – Spin Instructor
• Deeksha Spiritual Trainer – Oneness University, India
Debbie’s approach is integrative – traditional mental health therapy perspective and tools – combined with working with other evidence-based practices that include mind, body, and spirit. She has worked for a number of non-profit and for profit organizations that support women and children leaving domestic violence, people going through cancer treatment, and those afflicted with substance addiction. Debbie has also maintained a private practice since 2000 assisting people dealing with life transitions, depression and anxiety, grief, and trauma related symptoms.
She has been a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner since 2016, using yogic practices of breath, movement with awareness, relaxation, and meditation to access the wisdom of the body that can translate into inspiration for change. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is a body-based modality that helps people cultivate a connection to their body, recognizing sensations, thought patterns, emotions and memories, and energetic experiences. Through a one on one session, this body connection supports a release of tension and promotes a greater sense of ease within one’s body and in life.
http://vestpocket.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/nov-8-2017-thumbnail.png600600dburton_90067so9http://vestpocket.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/vp-logo.pngdburton_90067so92017-10-28 09:49:412018-06-27 06:03:53Rave Reviews for November's Event: "My Business Is Out To Get Me! Reducing Stress and Finding the Work/Life Balance"
Vest Pocket Business Coalition held our Local Business Advocacy Planning Breakfast on October 25 at the Pig & a Jelly Jar restaurant in Holladay. More than 30 business owners attended to learn from founding board member and past-President Karin Palle about Vest Pocket’s long history of advocating for local, independent businesses.
This was followed by a great discussion led by Vest Pocket Advocacy Chair Carol Elliott and Advocacy Co-Chair Jon Parry on the following issues:
Personal Property Taxes on Business Tangible Property – The most hotly discussed issue in the event was frustration over the personal property tax requirements. Most business tangible personal property is subject to property tax under Utah state law. Furniture, fixtures, machinery, equipment and even supplies are all subject to taxation unless exempted. Notable exceptions are personal property with a total aggregate fair market value of $10,300 or less within a single county and inventory held for resale in the normal course of business. Many Vest Pocket businesses spend substantial time each year taking inventory of all personal property, preparing the required Personal Property Signed Statement, and paying the tax due. Businesses are also subject to audits by county assessors that can take up significant time and resources. Vest Pocket will work for reform of the personal property tax system in Utah because it is particularly burdensome on our local, independent businesses.
Efairness – Vest Pocket has been a strong proponent of “E-fairness” legislation the past few years, including supporting E-fairness legislation at the Utah State Legislature. “E-fairness” legislation is designed to level the playing field between brick and mortar retail businesses and online retailers by requiring online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases that is already due under state law. While the Utah Legislature in the 2018 session might not consider “E-fairness” legislation again, Vest Pocket will continue to advocate on this issue at both the state and national levels.
Liquor laws (new .05% blood alcohol limit) – In December 2018, the new Utah statue limiting a driver’s blood alcohol content to .05% takes effect. Even though the law does not become effective until December 2018, and the current BAC limit remains at .08%, restaurants and other establishments serving alcohol in Utah are already experiencing drops in business as people believe the law is effective now. Vest Pocket advocates that the legislature reconsider the .05% limit and wait for other states to lower the BAC level from the current .08% limit before lowering the allowable BAC limit.
Other issues Vest Pocket is focusing on include the ‘Count My Vote’ initiative, increasing public funding for education, tax incentives for growth of independent businesses (just like large businesses considering relocation or expansion in Utah are often given), and support for clean air initiatives.
If you own a small business and you weren’t able to join for our planning breakfast we still want to hear from you. Let us know what small issues Vest Pocket should be focusing our advocacy efforts on.
Click below to send us your feedback now.
Vest Pocket’s advocacy team will be active in the 2018 Utah legislative session and is working to possibly hire a professional lobbyist to help increase our efficacy in advocating for the interests of local, independently-owned businesses in Utah. To increase Vest Pocket’s impact, we encourage you to become a member or renew your membership, and let other local business owners know about our group. Positive change will happen only if we band together and work for our common interests as local, independent business owners.
The title sponsor for the October Vest Pocket event was Richards, Brandt, Miller, Nelson. Additional sponsors included Local First and Pig & A Jelly Jar.
http://vestpocket.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/VP-2017-Advocacy-Planning-small-1.png400400Vest Pockethttp://vestpocket.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/vp-logo.pngVest Pocket2017-10-06 21:06:152018-06-27 06:03:53Thank You For Joining Us For Our "Local Business Advocacy Planning Breakfast"