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Bill Would Help Homeless, Take Money from Education Fund

House Bill 247 homeless

Utah is one step closer to helping homeless individuals find a job. Today, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide a tax credit to businesses that employ someone living in one of Utah’s shelters, but some legislators say the bill gives the homeless an unfair advantage.

Salt Lake City Democratic Representative Brian King explained his bill to his colleagues on the house floor Monday morning.

“What this is doing is giving individuals and a group of individuals who are struggling to be contributing citizens an opportunity to join our ranks as contributors," King said.

House bill 274 would provide $500 to $2,000 in tax incentives to businesses if they employ homeless individuals for 20 to 40 hours per week for at least six months.

“This bill has the potential to increase the likelihood that we’re not just going to just help people get back on their feet but that we’re going to improve them mentally, physically and emotionally and those are often times the things that are preventing them from having homes in the first place,” King said.

But, some lawmakers like Republican Representative Curt Webb of Logan say the bill is unfair. Webb voiced opposition for the proposed legislation saying it creates winners and losers.

“I think there are only so many jobs out there; and the jobs, instead of going to those who are poor and disadvantaged but who have struggled to hang on to their lodgings, we instead disadvantage them in order to help those who have already lost their homes. I think that is unfair,” Webb said.

King has also received some concern from the UEA over the funding source for the bill. HB 274 could cost the state’s education fund up to a half million dollars a year if passed. To help ease some of those concerns, King added a 5 year-sunset clause to his bill so the program can be reevaluated  after the five year period.

The bill passed out of the house with a vote of 41-33 and will now be heard on the Senate Floor.