Lawmakers unveil bills focusing on family, economy

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) Your family and your wallet. That's the focus of a non-partisan action plan coming from a rare combination of lawmakers and organizations Thursday. 

More than 17 pieces of legislation focus on growing the economy while also removing barriers facing Utah families.

"We want equality. We want justice for all and opportunities to be fair," Sen. Luz Escamilla said, (D) Dist. 1. 

A recent study initiated by the Utah Women in the Economy Commission identified barriers women face while entering the workforce. The action plan aims to eliminate those challenges while also spurring economic growth. 

"We are taking issues that have been seen one way and saying hey, look at this through an economic lens," Rep. Rebecca Edwards, (R) Dist. 20.

During the legislative session, democratic and republican legislators will address issues including minimum wage, family medical leave, paid parental leave for state employees, workplace protections, earned income tax credit, childcare incentives, family planning services and gender pay equity. 

"There are certain protections to make sure that doesn't happen but I still believe there may be some gaps," Sen. Escamilla said. 

Sen. Escamilla wants to study possible pay disparity among state workers to make sure families are reaching financial independence regardless of gender.

"I have daughters and I don't want to believe that in 20 years from now, they are still facing some gender gap issues related to income," Sen. Escamilla said. 

Rep. Tim Quinn proposes a bill that would eliminate the state portion of sales tax on food. To make up the $88 million in lost revenue, sales tax would rise by 0.24 percent on everything else. 

" I don't view this issue from the standpoint of economics. This is a moral issue," Rep. Quinn said, (R) District 54.

Several bills will affect retirees by offering a retirement income tax credit and eliminating state tax on Social Security.

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