New Utah laws for 2018: Extra hotel tax, rules for police to destroy guns

Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, undated | Stock image; gavel image by Anastasia_New / iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Utah drivers in 2018 will save some money after lawmakers eliminated a required car safety check, but visitors to hotels, motels and campgrounds will feel a slight pinch in their pocketbooks under a new tax.

The changes are among a handful of new laws taking effect Monday in Utah.

Most of the roughly 500 laws passed by Utah legislators in 2017 took effect in May, a default date marking 60 days from the end of Utah’s short legislative session. A few dozen more took effect July 1, the start of Utah’s new budget year.

Here’s a look at some of the new laws taking effect in 2018:

Car safety inspections

Utah drivers will no longer be required to get periodic safety inspections to keep their vehicles on the road. The new law brings Utah in line with a number of other states that have scrapped such requirements. Lawmakers said the tests, which cost $15 and included checks of brakes, headlights and windshields, don’t make streets safer.

Read more: New year brings an end to mandatory car safety inspections

The law still allows counties to require regular emissions tests for cars. Counties that currently require emissions testing in Utah are Salt Lake, Davis, Utah and Weber counties.

In exchange for cutting the safety inspections, the law makes permanent a rule declaring it a primary offense not to wear a seat belt.

Hotel room tax

Lawmakers created a new state hotel room tax to bolster outdoor recreation. Currently, only counties, cities and towns tax stays at hotels, motels, campgrounds and other temporary lodging. The 0.32 percent tax will be imposed along with local hotel and sales taxes, and is expected to generate as much as $5 million annually.

For a $100 a night hotel room, a tax of about 32 cents would be imposed. About half of the states and the District of Columbia impose a state hotel tax, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Some of the money generated from Utah’s tax will go toward hospitality education programs, but most of it will help fund Utah’s Office of Outdoor Recreation, which hands out grants between $5,000 and $150,000 for governments or nonprofits that build recreation infrastructure such as walking paths, hiking trails and rock climbing routes.

Gun destruction

Another new law says authorities can sell abandoned guns or give them to a firearms dealer for sale or to the Bureau of Forensic Services for testing.

But law enforcement officials can only destroy a gun if its condition prevents it from being sold or if it’s associated with a notorious crime.

“I never saw the need for a perfectly good firearm to be destroyed,” the law’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Brad Daw of Orem, told lawmakers during a hearing on the measure.

Clean fuel incentives

One new law offers a $1.8 million tax break for Utah refineries taking steps to produce cleaner gasoline, known at Tier 3 fuels. Refineries would be eligible for the tax break if they purchase and use equipment that moves them to Tier 3 fuel by 2020.

Lawmakers said it’s a major incentive that will help improve air quality along the Wasatch Front, where cold air traps tailpipe emissions and other pollutants above bowl-shaped mountain basins. If every car switched to Tier 3 fuel, it would be the equivalent of removing four out of every five cars from roads, Republican Rep. Brad Wilson, one sponsor of the proposal said.

Michelle L. Price of the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email: rwayman[email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • desertgirl December 30, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    500 laws in one year. Outrageous.

    • .... December 30, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      It’s like that every year,so what’s the big deal ?

  • and December 30, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    500 laws is a disgrace. No one knows what the laws are so how do you know if you are breaking the law? More government intrusion and control of the people. This state is pining to be the new California. Sad.

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