Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cops, King George and Municipal Government

Yeah, its a strange linkage but its all in a day's work at the Utah State Legislature.


Today, the House Law Enforcement committee considered HB-255 Prohibition of Citation Quotas by Representative Neil Hansen of Ogden, which would prohibit local police departments from using any ticket "quota" system for police performance evaluations. The bill, which was written fairly broadly attempts to target specific daily quotas, but would also prohibit police departments from using any ticketing information to evaluate police officers. As you can imagine may local police departments testified in opposition to the bill. The bill did, however, pass the committee by a one vote margin and is now on its way to the House floor for further consideration. The Utah League of Cities and Towns, Police Chiefs, Sheriffs and Association of Counties will all be working together to oppose the bill on the House floor. Stay tuned on this one.

Now moving to King George

Yes, is excellency was actually invoked during a committee debate today regarding the splitting of school districts. SB-30S1 Creation of New School Districts sponsored by Senator Carlene Walker of Cottonwood Heights would allow portions of an existing school district to split out of that school district and create a new, smaller district. The bill is fairly nuanced, covering issues such as asset distribution, interim school boards, and the process for actually proceeding with the split; but the issue that received the most attention in committee today was the voting aspect associated with the split. The argument centered on whether the entire district should be allowed to vote on the split or just the portion requesting to split. And that is when it happened, during the testimony an individual representing the City of South Salt Lake and arguing for the voting to remain solely with the splitting faction asked if the 13 colonies would have been created if all of England and King George had an opportunity to vote in the Declaration of Independence. While you may scoff, the argument, buoyed by others testifying in the same vein, carried the day and the committee passed the bill out with the provision which only allows the splitting portion of the school district to vote on the creation of the smaller school district.

It is unlikely that this debate is over, and it "splits" right down the Jordan River in Salt Lake County, where most "east-side" communities support the idea of only allowing the splitting portion to vote, and most "west-side" communities supporting and idea that would require the entire district to vote on the split. At this point the ULCT has not taken a position on this aspect of the bill, but our Policy Committee did support the original legislation which allows cities to initiate a split in the current school districts. Fortunately, Senator Walker has expressed willingness to sit down with all interested parties to find an amicable solution for all involved. As you can imagine, the ULCT will be watching this one closely as it moves through negotiation and the legislative process in general.

And Additional Items for Municipal Government

In addition to the committee hearings, today marked the first milestone in the 2007 legislature. It was the last day that a bill file can be requested by a legislator. As such, tomorrow we should see a much longer list of "requested" bills. Once we have a chance to peruse the comprehensive list we will begin posting/tracking all of the municipal legislation on this website and our homepage

Please check both places for tracking and update information.

Until next time....Enjoy