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Utah League Of Cities And Towns Already Eyeing Certain Bills Ahead Of 2019 Legislative Session

Utah League of Cities and Towns

Representation from each of Utah’s 248 cities probably won’t be able to attend all of the state’s legislative session; but the Utah League of Cities and Towns plan to represent their interests.

Director of government relations with the Utah League of Cities and Towns Rachel Otto says that the organization uses five question to evaluate proposed legislation.

“First is, what is the problem the bill is trying to solve? Is there an actual problem that we’re trying to address? Second is, is the problem best addressed at the local level or at the state level? We try to respect the role of the state legislature to set policy and direction for the state, but if the problem is best addressed locally then we want to preserve that. Third is, is the bill a one size fits all approach? All 248 cities and towns are very unique and often across the board legislation does not really work. Fourth is does the bill restrict mayors and councils from letting cities and counties work? That’s kind of what we’ve talked about in terms of the plastic bag ban. Fifth is, does the bill create an unfunded mandate or harm city or county budget? This is obviously a major problem. The legislature tells cities and towns to do something but doesn’t provide a funding stream that funding has to come from somewhere in the budget. We don’t want to be in a position of cutting critical services in order to respond to a piece of legislation that may or may not be something that makes sense for our cities.”

The league only takes stances on legislation if they have consensus either for or against. The league opposed last year’s attempt to overrule Park City’s plastic bag ban.

“We fight hard to make sure that cities and towns can govern in the way that they think is best for their residents. Government closest to the people governs best. What we’re really concerned with is not so much necessarily the policy behind banning plastic bags in particular but whether or not a city can make that decision based on their residents and their needs to respond to a problem that they’re facing. We don’t want the legislature to preempt the ability of cities.”

Over 1,200 bill files have been opened and the ULCT has taken a look at those bills with one in particular catching their eye.

“A lot of them we have been working on during the interim. We have a list of bills we’re supporting, we have a list of bills that we’re still working on. The biggest one that we’re supporting right now, that we have been very proactive on is SB 34. Which is a bill that came out of the commission on housing affordability. That’s something that we’re excited to be proactive on but there are a handful of other bills that we’re supporting and opposing at this point.”

Otto explains what SB 34 is.

“SB 34 as I just mentioned came out of the commission on housing affordability which has been meeting this past interim. This really goes to what we’ve been doing for the last couple of years which is trying to help our cities and towns really prepare for the unprecedented growth that we’re seeing in Utah. The bill does two things it requires cities to have certain planning tools as part of their moderate-income housing plan. That cities over a certain population have to include as part of their general plan. As cities are planning for moderate income housing and doing reporting and doing good planning on this. It ties to eligibility to whether or not they’re in compliance with the plan and the report with whether or not they’re eligible for transportation investment fund dollars.”

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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