2018 Bills

SB 16: Subsidizing Government by Increasing Fees

This bill passed the Senate with a vote of 16-11 and the House unanimously.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and must therefore be opposed.

Drivers licenses, identification cards, skills tests, and background checks—these are just a few of the things requiring a fee that Senator Daniel Thatcher has proposed charging Utahns more for in Senate Bill 16.

User fees are the proper way to fund government services. But unless legislators can show that the services are currently underfunded—for example, due to price inflation or the purchase of costly equipment—the fees should certainly not be increased.

Fee increases in SB 16 would go to the Bureau of Criminal Identification’s (BCI), which is the government entity that handles many of Utah’s public safety matters, such as issuing state background checks and identification cards. A review of this agency’s existing budget shows that the people whose fees are increasing under this bill are already over-paying to the agency’s budget; the current fee revenue is enough to subsidize other areas of core criminal justice activity for which the agency is in need of additional revenue. 

In total, this bill would extract an estimated $9 million from Utahns in addition to existing taxes and fees. And because fees for certain applicants—for example, those seeking a concealed firearm permit—already pay for the necessary cost (and then some, to subsidize other agency programs), their fees should definitely not be increased.