Over a Decade of Extraordinary UTC Advocacy Accomplishments
In the first decade and a half of the 21st Century, the Utah Technology Council (UTC) has played a transformative leadership role in the development and passage of legislation impacting Utah’s technology industry. Some of UTC’s landmark accomplishments during this time include:
UTC led the effort to pass the Engineering Initiative with Governor Leavitt, which has been instrumental in increasing the number and quality of computer science and engineering graduates produced by Utah’s universities to “fuel the growth” of the state’s 5,000 technology companies (2001). In 2015, we were able to obtain additional funding support of the initiative resulting in $30 million per year to increase capacity with half coming from 1:1 match from university presidents to hire faculty.
Utah Fund of Funds – Fund I
UTC championed passage of this significant entrepreneurial economic development legislation – which has “fundamentally changed the state’s early-stage capital structure.” Over 200 venture capital and private equity firms have been attracted to the state’s rich high-growth innovation community investing $121M in funding commitments to 28 funds (mostly out of state since 2005) - all at no cost to state taxpayers!
UTC played a key role in the creation and funding of the $400M Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) as the state’s “innovation framework.” In close collaboration with the Salt Lake Chamber and EDCUtah, it was passed and has already established an excellent track record for attracting top researchers along with their teams and federal funding to Utah’s leading research institutions to create new companies and high-paying, high-skilled jobs (2006).
Increased High School Rigor – Talent Shortage is a top UTC priority via the K-12 Pipeline
UTC was the sole organization to strongly advocate this crucial change in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) high school graduation requirements. This enhances the Rigor of Utah high school students by requiring one additional year of math, science and language arts. After six years of deliberation without a decision and with significant persuasion from UTC, the State Board of Education passed this unanimously (2006). It went into effect in 2011.
Mainstream Computer Science as “Science” Option in High School
In 2014, UTC trustees Aaron Skonnard and Jonathan Johnson and other members were joined by Helen Hu from Westminster College to meet with the State Board of Education, and we achieved a landmark decision in “mainstreaming Computer Science” in high schools! Starting in August 2015, students are able to count a rigorous CS course as one of three science credits required for high school graduation. Students will also have the opportunity to take more rigorous CS courses, such as AP Computer Science.
School Grading System – The Transparency Act (SB 59)
UTC was the strongest advocacy group that championed this bill, which gives every school one letter grade for students’ quality of STEM education and overall preparedness. The goal is to better prepare the state’s 625,000 underserved students so that they can successfully compete in the global economy for the high-demand jobs in our “hot” technology companies (2011 - 2014).
$30 Million for STEM Action Center
Our top focus again in 2014 was the STEM Action Center bill. After securing a $30 million investment in the 2013 & 2014 sessions, it produced very strong early pilot results. In these two tight sessions, getting $30 million in new money for education to innovate is a very big deal! The STEM Action Center’s primary goal is to support digital professional development for teachers and “excite students” with STEM opportunities, by providing effective STEM education through digital learning tools to public K-12 classrooms statewide(2013-2014). In 2015, we were successfully able to protect and maintain full funding for the Center.
Other Notable UTC Influence
• Boosted college & career readiness through online professional development for high school
• Strengthened math rigor with $1.95M funding to help increase high school graduates’ math
competencies for success in their chosen field.
• Helped pass a bill to turnaround the state’s lowest level of failing schools with $7 million.
• Added Computer Science teachers to an existing program which provides supplemental
income with appropriate credentials.
• Supported bill to help graduate more high school students and lower the dropout rate.
• Helped start a program to put digital teaching and learning devices in more K-12
• Kept Utah as a business friendly state for insurance companies without overbearing
regulations preventing them from conducting business.
• Amended bill harmful to IT industry regarding distribution of personal images.
• More funds for technology startups with $40,000 grants starting July 1.
• We helped continued USTAR funding at the full $22 million ongoing level, a victory for the
innovation framework of Utah!
• Stopping bad faith demand letters in Utah - now Patent Troll victims in Utah can fight these
unfair demands locally. Note: this reform bill must be passed federally.
• One-to-one technology in classrooms, the bill was pulled but remains on our radar.
• Technical corrections for assigning a letter grade to every school in Utah. This is the fourth
session this initiative has been brought up, and UTC was again a leader in helping to fine-tune
• $10 million to launch STEM Action Center education innovation in Utah. - #1 Industry Priority
• Defeated sales and use tax amendments to stop industry-harming amendments – internet tax.
• Defeated school board elections provisions to protect industry leadership in education.
• Supported creating the Education Task Force, which will focus on aligning both public and
higher education with a long term strategy.
• Secured $2.5 million to fuel industry talent pipeline.
• USTAR funding increased to $6 million. ($3 million ongoing/$3 million one-time)
• Enhanced student's opportunities to learn (SB 178) improvements on. (SB 65)
• Tax credit incentive to angel investors to invest in Utah’s smaller medical device companies.
• Exempted 60% sales tax on cloud software computing. (SB 23)
• Passage of economic development through education/career alignment. (SB 305)
• Passage of economic development coordination. (SB 312)
• Passage of sales and use tax act revisions. (HB 35)
• Passage of performance pay pilot program. (HB 328)
• Opposed employee non-competition contract amendments. (HB 417)
• Bridging the “valley of death” with start-up funds for new, smaller device companies. (HB 496)
• Repositioned and retained $1.8 million in funding for matching $40k grants. (SB 319)
• Statewide online education bill makes available highly-qualified online a la carte courses
for the state’s high schools. (SB 65)
• Passage of e-commerce integrity act. (SB 26)
• Passage of authorization of charter schools by higher education institutions. (SB 55)
• Passage of Utah performance assessment system for students (UPASS) amendments.
• Trademark amendments (HB 450), helping evaluate and craft sound legislative and
regulatory framework for key trademark issues impacting Utah businesses.
• Passage of joint resolution regarding secret ballot (HJR 8) – rejected Card Check, affirmed
the right to vote by secret ballot.
• Passage of pathway for biosimilars act. (HR 1548)
• Played a major catalyst role in creating the National Summit on Personalized Health Care
(PHC) and organizing its first two events, which brings global PHC leaders to Deer Valley
to chart the strategy and direction for this emerging transformational approach to innovation
in health care. Governor Leavitt and leading thought-leader Clayton Christensen were
leads to launch this Summit.
• Played a central role in the national debate and passage of the Genetic Information
Nondiscrimination Act (GINA – HR 493), which prohibits the improper use of genetic
information in insurance and employment.
• Passed capital gains (SB 204) bill, which helped safeguard Utah’s economic and
• Passage of key education bills (STEM – science technology engineering and math)
(SB 35, HB 270, HB 349), which improve the Rigor and quality of instruction for Utah k-12
• Resolution increasing public awareness of capital gains tax deduction (SR 3), to
increase awareness and encourage economic development and investment.
• Research activities tax credit amendments (SB 171), to help encourage and incent
productive research and commercialization.
• Tax amendments – reduced income tax to 5% (HB 354/SB 242), to help spur broadbased
economic activity in the state.
• Amendments related to pornographic and harmful materials (HB 260), to protect families
and businesses from unwanted effects of pornography in the home and workplace.
• Prescriptive practice of legend drugs (SB 46), to protect citizens in Utah from fraudulent
and/or predatory prescription practices.
• Primary advocate for state IT department.
• Internet child registry.
• Facilitated passage of spyware regulations.
• First trained members on becoming delegates – over a dozen industry leaders elected!
• Passed $100M Utah Fund of Funds to “fundamentally change early stage capital in Utah!”
• Five-year strategic plan identified public policy as a key element to develop a healthy
business environment for technology companies to grow.
• Launching of high-tech high schools.
• Increased early-stage capital.
• Employers’ education coalition.
• Through membership in national organization, CRITA, played a major role at national level
to create new tax cuts through accrued depreciation.
• Instrumental in passing the Engineering Initiative.
• Helped with passage of research tax credit.