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My view: Let's take a breather on HB251: A blueprint for study

FILE — House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, addresses legislators in the House of Representatives on the first day of the Utah Legislature at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016.
FILE — House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, addresses legislators in the House of Representatives on the first day of the Utah Legislature at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

HB251, a bill directed at limiting post-employment restrictions in our State was introduced to address a number of concerns raised by Speaker Greg Hughes and the bill's sponsor Representative Michael Schultz. They have worked diligently with representatives from both sides of the issue in a valiant effort to arrive at a conclusion to what is seen as a problem.

Parties on both sides have raised legitimate concerns about what the law does and does not do to protect employees and employers. Case law has been quoted and personal examples have been shared. Yet, with only two days left in the session, we still do not have a consensus.

Although this bill followed the legislative process, which included its introduction, approval through committees and the House in a fashion familiar to those who participate in an intense 45-day legislative session, there remains one important point — we cannot afford to get this wrong.

As a result, I strongly encourage the legislature to send HB251 to study. As a state, we spent more time discussing, understanding and creating policy around Medicaid expansion (currently in its third year), transportation taxation (6 years and 2 legislative sessions), prison relocation (6 years), income tax (4 years), and even whether we should keep daylight saving time (3 years).

I suggest the following blueprint to evaluate and solve the concerns related to post employment contracts:

  1. Gather and validate real data
  2. Study existing law, case law and precedents
  3. Determine who has jurisdiction over the problem areas
  4. Identify the core of the problem/abuse
  5. Evaluate and take the appropriate actions based upon the data and answers to the questions
  6. And then answer the following questions: What are the impacts and needs of Employers/Companies (e.g. startups; existing; those expanding; and those moving to Utah)?
  7. What are the impacts and needs of Employees?
  8. How will possible new legislation be seen and what is the associated messaging?
  9. Ask, “What is the role of government?”
  10. Engage the best employment attorneys and impacted businesses to get to a real working solution that properly balances the needs of our workforce with those of the business community.

On such a broad sweeping issue, let’s ensure that we get this right and give everyone time to digest what is happening before we agree to move anything forward. Senator Weiler said it best at the end of the Senate committee hearing last Friday, March 4 when he shared his concern about solving the challenges related to HB251 even if it were the only bill being considered in the remaining four days of the session. This is an important issue. Let’s not rush a process that has consistently made Utah the number one state for business and careers, according to Forbes Magazine. After all, we are all Utahns and if we get this wrong, Utah loses and that includes all of us.

Spencer P. Eccles is the managing director of Cynosure Management. He formerly served as the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development through the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, from 2009 to 2014.