A Utah state representative has introduced an anti-scalping bill to the Utah House of Representatives, for consideration during its upcoming legislative session, January 25 – March 11.
H.B. 76, sponsored by Democrat Lynn Hemingway, would make ticket scalping in the state of Utah a Class C misdemeanor. In Utah, a Class C misdemeanor is an offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $750.
Currently, there are no laws on the books governing ticket resale in Utah.
The proposed bill defines scalping as selling a ticket to an event at a price greater than that listed on the ticket or the license of admission, as well as any applicable tax. The bill would also mandate that service charges cannot exceed the greater of $10 or 15 percent of the ticket price. Each sale of a ticket, or attempted sale of a ticket, that falls under this definition is a separate offense.
“This is something that a constituent talked to me about and something that I thought was somewhat important in trying to keep ticket prices down for different types of entertainment,” Rep. Hemingway told TicketNews.
A nearly identical bill was introduced to the Utah House of Representatives in 1998. Sponsored by Rep. Jordan Tanner (R), that bill passed the House Revenue and Taxation Standing Committee but was killed on the House floor.
Referring to that attempt, Bob Hunt, CEO of Utah based brokerage Premier Tickets, told TicketNews, “Every ten years they try to pass the same bill in Utah.” He said that, on his part, there’s nothing to be done as of yet; should the bill gain leverage in the House, then, “I’ll get active.”
Given the history of anti-scalping legislation in Utah, the question of, Why this bill now, seems a valid one. Rep. Hemingway acknowledged that he’s not sure if the time is right for this bill, while Hunt pointed towards the uproar over Miley Cyrus concert tickets as a possible motive for introducing the bill. Tickets for Cyrus’s 2008 Hannah Montana tour sold out in minutes in some markets, including those based in Utah, and were resold for well over their face value.
The bill also would seem to face some difficulty due to the difficulty of applying a state law to internet brokers who may not reside in that state. This question was brought up by Ken Solky, President of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, which represents the interest of ticket brokers.
“There’s always the interesting question about whether a misdemeanor ordinance like this would reach into other jurisdictions and how it would effect the sale of a ticket for somebody outside the jurisdiction,” Solky told TicketNews. “Why punish somebody who resides there or does business there yet allow somebody else in another jurisdiction to legally sell the ticket?”
Hemingway does not seem to be deterred from trying to improve what he sees as a flawed situation. “What I want to do,” he said, “is bring this to a discussion and see how far we can get with it.”