Friday, February 02, 2007

Eminent Domain Evokes Emotion

While it probably doesn't need to be said, eminent domain is still an emotional issue for most people including members of the Utah State Legislature. Yesterday, local governments were dealt a small blow in the House Government Operations committee, where HB-334 was passed out with a favorable recommendation. The bill strengthens legislative language on the prohibition to condemn for recreational trails and emergency access. While the most offensive language was successfully struck from the bill, the remaining language is still troublesome for some communities in Utah. While this bill still has a long way to go before passage, it appears that the emotion associated with condemnation authority is still ripe and will likely drive much of the debate on this issue. If you wold like to read more, here is the Salt Lake Tribunes COVERAGE.

Local government was, however, successful in several other legislative committees. We were able to successfully delay a vote to lower the Telecommunications Gross Receipts Tax in House Revenue and Taxation. This bill has been linked to the issue of local franchise authority and a push by some of the telecom industry to move to a statewide franchise. The tax bill will be back in committee on Monday, where it is likely to pass, but the delay does provide some benefit in the negotiations that are taking place on the related statewide franchise bill. We will keep you posted on this.

In addition, we also successfully opposed HB-203 which would allow for a redistribution of the local option sales tax. The bill did not pass out of committee and will likely be modified prior to coming back for additional consideration. We will see what modifications are made, it does appear that the bill will eventually pass the committee, but as time continues to tick away, this bill is be harder and harder to pass this year.

On a final positive note, it looks like Rep. Bigelow has done his part to ensure that east-west transportation needs will be met in the western half of the Salt Lake Valley. He successfully passed HB108 out of the House, which allocates 1.5 million for a corridor study on the west side of Salt Lake County. Hopefully all of our West Valley and West Jordan readers take a chance to thank Mr. Bigelow. For more please take a look at the Deseret News COVERAGE of the story.

Until next time...ENJOY