SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — More startups could choose Utah if new legislation passes.
The draw is they could apply to avoid some regulations for a year or two under House Bill 217.
“It allows them to take an innovation, move it into a sandbox where they don’t have to deal with all of these regulations, other than regulations that would apply to safety for people,” said Rep. Cory Maloy (R-Lehi), the bill’s sponsor. “We don’t want anyone to feel unsafe or be unsafe.”
Utah and other states have launched regulatory sandbox programs in the past focused on specific industries, like insurance or financial technology, but Maloy said such a program that’s open to all industries is a first for the country.
“This is just one more step to allow business to just flourish,” Maloy said, “and it encourages innovation instead of restricting it.”
Joseph Woodbury, CEO of Lehi-based Neighbor.com, said the benefit would be “almost immeasurable.” He said in the early days of his company, he and two other founders spent a lot of time researching storage regulations across all 50 states.
“If this sandbox had existed, then we would’ve been able to focus on building the business much more quickly,” Woodbury said.
Woodbury said students at Utah’s universities could pursue businesses that may not be feasible currently because of high barriers to entry. He also said more entrepreneurs may move to the state as a result of the program, bringing with them the possibility of more jobs and tax revenue.
Uber basically operated illegally for the first five years of their life,” Woodbury said. “If Utah had had a regulatory sandbox like this, there’s a good chance that someone looking to start a company like Uber would’ve come to Utah and started that company here, where they would have avoided that regulatory scrutiny.”
The waiver of regulations would be approved through a new regulatory relief office under the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
State agencies would be informed of regulations pertaining to them so they could flag any concerns, Maloy said.
This does not apply to regulations that are aimed at public safety and keeping the consumer safe,” he said.
The lawmaker ultimately hopes the applications reveal regulations can be eliminated or modified permanently. Deregulation is one of the Utah Legislature’s priorities this year.
READ: 2021 Utah legislative session: List of new bills tackle some big issues of 2020