Monday, February 05, 2007

Half-Way Mark for the 2007 Legislature

That's right, today marked the half-way point for the 2007 legislature. While the legislature may be physically half over, most of our work is yet to be done. As typical of the legislative process, most of the large decisions are being left for the waining hours. So far, it has been a fairly successful session for Utah's cities and towns as most critical issues have been resolved prior to committee hearings and floor debates, but that scenario is not fool proof. As has been mentioned in the last few posts, two issues dealing with a land-use matter in Mapleton city have plagued local governments this year, and have broken the trend of resolution prior to committee hearings. Both Tilton's bill dealing with condemnation for trails, parks and emergency access and Morley's bill dealing with zoning of sensitive lands (geological hazards) have passed out of committee and are now before the House for further debate. We have unsuccessfully opposed both bills in committee and now wait for them to be considered by the larger body. As we have said before, the multiple steps of the legislative process is geared to "kill" bills, and we hope that is the fate of both of these bills. We will be updating you on as these two issues work there way up the list for consideration. It will likely be next week before anything else happens.

Today was also a critical day for appropriations prioritization. Many subcommittees worked late tonight to finalize the appropriations requests that will be forwarded to the executive appropriations committee. Now that that step is behind us, we will likely see the budget take shape as the executive appropriations committee begins to sift through the requests and set the "legislative priorities". This is where most pundits assume the "discussions" between house and senate leadership will also begin to take shape and larger negotiations on the size of the tax cut and the viability of removing the sales tax on food will also be weighed. Stay tuned as this issue continues to mature.

On a final note, we will now also begin a more concerted effort to track bill progress as most critical issues are in the process at some point. This is where the juggling act begins as we are watching budget items, committee schedules in both the House and Senate and also watching floor schedules for both bodies. It is somewhat like the orchestra with a lot of separate parts all moving at once. Stay tuned as we turn down the home stretch.

Until next time....enjoy