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SALT LAKE CITY — A limited number of tax credits would be available for employers who hire homeless people in a bill passed by the Utah House on Monday.
HB140, sponsored by Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake, narrowly survived the House, advancing to the Senate on a vote of 38-36.
Employers who hire homeless people could be eligible for tax credits of $2,000. The employee must be continually employed for nine months for the employer to qualify, and the employer must have paid the worker at least $4,000 in wages during that period.
The legislation limits the pool of available tax credits to $100,000 in its inaugural year.
This is the third year King has sponsored the legislation, although this year's version has a lower price tag and is considered a pilot program, he said. Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, is Senate sponsor of the bill.
The bill is patterned after a tax credit program in Florida, which provides tax incentives for hiring people making the transition out of homelessness.
King said his intent was to help people who may have a more difficult time obtaining employment.
Rep. R. Curt Webb, R-Logan, spoke against the bill, noting people in danger of losing their homes, who also may need work, would not receive this consideration.
King said the incentives are for employers, not workers. Also, people who make the transition out of homelessness have a harder time competing in the job market than applicants with established work histories, he said.
"It's leveling the playing field," said King.
"It sounds a lot like a different word for discrimination," Webb said.