Governor signs 33 bills, including solar credit phase-out

Published on March 20, 2017 at 01:50PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gov. Gary Herbert signed 33 bills on Monday, including a measure phasing out a tax credit for installing solar panels that legislators said was eating away at money for public schools. Herbert has started churning through the 535 bills Utah lawmakers passed this year before wrapping up their annual session March 9. The Republican governor signed more than 80 bills last week, and as of midday Monday, has signed a total of 136 this year. He has until March 29 to sign or veto legislation, or allow it to become law without his signature. Highlights from the bills Herbert signed Monday: SOLAR PANELS: Herbert signed a measure into law that gradually winds down the $2,000 tax credit that homeowners can receive when they install rooftop solar panels. The credits apply to income taxes, which are the main source of funding for education in Utah. The measure from Republican Rep. Jeremy Peterson limits the credit to $1,600 next year and scales it back every year until it’s gone in 2021.Peterson says the industry has taken off, and with more and more residents installing the panels, the state missed out of $20 million in tax revenue last year.
PHYSICAL RESTRAINT IN SCHOOLS Another new law stipulates that a school employee may not physically restrain a student to prevent property damage. The employee must be acting out of self-defense or to prevent injury or harm to the student or another individual. Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, a Salt Lake City Democrat and retired teacher, sponsored the measure and says she hopes it will reduce the risk of injury to students by limiting the use of restraint. Moss said the bill also eliminates an antiquated part of state law allowing corporal punishment of students if parents give written permission.
COTTAGE FOODS A measure from Rep. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, exempts small producers of homemade baked goods, jams, jellies and other non-hazardous goods from state food safety inspections. Cottage food producers who sell homemade goods would still have to register with the state, get a food handler’s permit and follow state food labeling requirements. The inspection exemption would not apply to those who make homemade products involving raw seed sprouts, foods from an animal or that require time or temperature controls. Sandall said he wanted to ease regulations on those small, home-based businesses.