CEDAR CITY — Local business owners in downtown Cedar City offered residents on Friday a place to sign the referendum petition opposing the tax reform bill that was passed last month during a special legislative session.
Andy Martin and Ty Vinney, owners of Octopus Apothecary, hosted the referendum signing at their business. Vinney said he wanted to host the signing because state legislators are not listening to their constituents. He added that the bill could negatively affect his business.
“It’ll affect food costs. For me to feed my family, as a small business that can already be tight sometimes,” he said. “It will affect my customers’ budget, which will affect me. The gas-tax raise will also affect my shipping and handling. It all ties together.”
Brad Kramer explained that he signed the petition for a few reasons, one being the potential negative effect on certain groups of people.
“It looks like it will probably have a negative effect on, basically, empty nesters, people with small families who don’t make a lot of money, people on fixed incomes,” Kramer said.
Kramer said another reason he signed the petition was the circumstances under which the bill was passed.
“The fact that they passed it in the middle of the night, rather than do it in the regular legislative session, giving a chance for everybody to look it over carefully, made me go, ‘this reminds me of Obamacare’,” Kramer said. “And we all know what that turned into. So there has to be something sneaky going on and we won’t know it until after it’s passed and in law and then it will come out as to who is going to make a lot of money off of it and who’s not going to. So I’m going ‘no, I’ll do what I can to put it in check.’”
Vice Chair for the Utah Libertarian Party and Iron County resident Barry Short served as the signature witness for the event. Short said he feels that the referendum effort is going very well, and is expected to have enough signatures to have it qualified for the ballot as early as next week.
“We feel very confident,” Short said. “We are really happy from the support that we got from Harmon’s and then today from Associated Foods (Stores) in the effort to collect signatures all over the state.”
Short said a major concern for rural areas is the tax on fuel the bill puts in motion.
“I think there are several concerns for people here in Iron County and really throughout all of rural Utah, because the gas tax is one thing that you can’t get around,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, if you drive you’re going to pay that tax. People here in the southern half of the state tend to drive a lot further for things like groceries, healthcare and everything else that’s a necessity of life. So that’s going to disproportionately affect everyone who’s in any of the rural parts of the state.”
Short said the fuel tax will also affect the cost of food, because that is a component that is considered in the pricing of food in grocery stores. Short added that the taxes on services are a concern as well.
“It’s really a terrible thing to be adding that onto all sorts of people who got into business where they did not expect to be unpaid tax collectors for the state,” he said. “I’ve been a retailer, I collected taxes, I remitted it, it’s a ton of work, it’s a ton of tracking in order to do all of that and it’s time that I put into being a servant of the state instead of running my business.”
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