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As Utah Legislative Session Begins, Park City Manager Discusses Strategy

Utah State Capitol
KPCW Radio

Although Park City is a small, liberal stronghold in conservative Utah, Park City Manager Matt Dias says the town isn’t always playing defense at the Utah Legislature. Last year, the city flexed some lawmaking muscle with the successful passage of the Community Renewable Energy Act, paving the way for Park City to reach its 2030 net-zero carbon goal. Dias says the city tries to be strategic in its representation on Capitol Hill.

“We have a very, very long history, going back to Brad Olch and Dana Williams and Jack Thomas, of being an incredibly active organization when it comes to the state legislature," Dias said. "The depth of that involves staff, it involves council and it also involves the community. So we have a lot of resources that we spread all around Capitol Hill during the session.”

Each year, the Park City Leadership Class meets with lawmakers on the first day of the legislative session, creating a connection between the Park City community and legislators. Park City’s executive team, including Mayor Andy Beerman and Dias, also advocate for the city’s interests. Additionally, the city employs a lobbyist of its own. But one of the main ways the city is represented is through the Utah League of Cities and Towns. Park City pays nearly $40,000 to participate in the league, and Dias says it’s well worth it.

“I'd say, emphatically, they do a fantastic job, and they have an extremely complex position," Dias said. "They're representing every single city and town in the state, and we have some very conservative jurisdictions, we have some more liberal jurisdictions and we have everything in between, including major metropolitan areas. They have just a fantastic system that really honors the ability to be independent and be different, and for each community to hold its own values and pursue those values.”

With hundreds of bills considered every year, Dias says the city focuses its energy and keeps tabs on relevant bills by establishing a legislative platform with the city council.

“We are constantly coming in and updating council," Dias said. "We have a guiding document that allows us to advocate and protect Park City's interests when myself or the mayor or other council members are down at the Capitol, and we're constantly doing that in a public setting. We're coming back or looping in council. We're bringing it on the radio, and that's worked out really, really well for us for 30 years or so.”

The 2020 Utah Legislature starts Monday, Jan. 27 and ends at midnight on March 12.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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