Thursday, January 24, 2008

Day 4 -- Things are starting to move

Day 4 is now behind us. It was a fairly slow day on Capitol Hill for Utah’s cities with nothing in committee in either the Senate or the House. However, it looks like SB20 is going back to a Senate Standing Committee on Tuesday, January 29 for some additional hearing time. While the bill went immediately to the floor for consideration, there were still some issues that needed to be addressed prior to Senate passage. The ULCT has been charged with finding consensus on this legislation prior to Tuesday’s scheduled hearing. If you are interested in the discussion I would encourage your attendance at Monday’s Policy Meeting. A working group will be meeting soon after to hammer out the final details.

In addition to SB20 we have several other key items up for consideration in the next few days to include SB46 Anti-Flow Control Amendments which will be in committee next Tuesday, January 29th, as well as Rep. Painters HB51 Water Forfeiture Amendments which is scheduled for committee on Friday, January 25th . If you have an opportunity to attend this meeting tomorrow on Water Forfeiture, your showing of support would be greatly appreciated. In addition, we will be smattered with a few privatization bills HB75 and HB76 both sponsored by Craig Frank on Monday as well as SB45 which is in Senate Government Operations Committee tomorrow afternoon. The ULCT has opposed all three of these bills.

So what do these bills do?

SB46 Anti Flow Control: Would restrict a city, county or district from directing the flow of residential and commercial solid waste to a public facility. The bill, in its current form, does not address municipal concerns with monopolistic propensities in the private Utah waste disposal industry, nor does it address concerns with the potential for rate increases associated with residential waste disposal if a significant portion of the commercial waste stream is diverted from public facilities. The ULCT is in discussions with the legislative advocates behind this bill and is working to address their concerns while also maintaining the option of flow control if the city, county or district can demonstrate certain factors associated with the creation of monopolies and price concerns. The ULCT’s current position is to oppose the bill as drafted

HB51 Water Forfeiture Amendments: This bill would allow cities and towns to retain municipal water rights for the reasonable future demands of the public and waive current forfeiture provisions if water is being retained for that purpose. The reasonable future demands of the public concept allows cities and towns to do appropriate long range planning (20 and 30 year plans) without the threat of forfeiting water that is purchased today for a demand that may not be realized for 20-30 years. This is a very high priority bill for the League and we would encourage you to contact your representative to express your support.

HB75, HB76 and SB45: These bills came out of the legislative study committee on privatization and attempt to address perceived local government and state activities that compete with the private sector. Each bill has a different methodology, but all fail to address the true concerns of privatization. The bills attempt to address a “core governmental service” but the current definition fails to recognize anything that is not a regulatory or legislative activity as a “core” service. In short; police, fire, parks, recreation, water, sewer, public works would all be considered non-core services and should therefore be handled by the private sector. In addition to “core service” these bills attempt to create oversight boards that can overturn city council decisions if a decision is deemed to have private competition implications. Since this concept clearly tramples the constitutionally held concept that a legislative decision cannot be overturned by a non-elected board – The RIPPER CLAUSE, we have some concerns here as well. Due to the overarching aspect of each bill, the ULCT stands opposed to all three.

SB20 Form of Government Amendments: In the most simplistic sense, this bill addresses the roles and responsibilities of councils and mayors under the various forms of municipal government. It also stipulates how a city can change from one form to another. This bill still has some work to be done to ensure that the power balance is not shifted in the changes that were made and still allows all cities and towns to operate as they do today. As mentioned above, we will have a final product ready to go on Monday, January 28 and will provide more detail at that time.

As you can see things are already picking up. We will be sure to keep you up to speed.

Until next time …. Enjoy