Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Final Day Update

So we are now sitting here on Day 45 of the 45 day session and things are looking pretty good.

Here is a quick recap of our priority issues:

  • HB51 Water Forfeiture Protection -- ULCT Supported (Our number one priority)

This bill passed earlier this week with flying colors. Like all water bills it was not without controversy, but it did ultimately pass and is now awaiting the Governors signature.

  • Land Use Legislation -- Various Positions

All of our high priority "Support" bills passed without any real controversy (SB196, HB153, HB177). We again demonstrated that working throughout the interim with the interested parties makes for a much easier session as we are all working from the same page. We also successfully avoided some detrimental legislation to include additional zoning restrictions for environmentally sensitive zones (SB226) and riparian areas (HB454). Lastly we successfully avoided legislation that would have significantly altered our ability to obtain water rights when annexing new property (SB279) -- It was a great year on land-use issues

  • Justice Courts -- Support the Substituted Bill

We were able to successfully substitute the justice court bill to ensure that we maintained local control of the justice court system while also implementing changes that promote public confidence in the court system and further demonstrate the independent nature of the justice courts. As this was a major issue for us this year, the compromise position on this bill addressed any concerns we had with the original proposal -- Again a great result.

  • Forms of Government -- ULCT High Priority Issue -- Passed Yesterday

While this bill was probably the most "fluid" of any our issues, we successfully passed the 3rd substitute of SB20 yesterday evening and held off all of the proposed amendments that would have fundamentally altered the governance of many cities in Utah. After 18 months of work, we have successfully clarified the law of governance while also striking the same power balance that exists today. In addition the bill clearly demonstrates that any change in form of government will require a vote of the people and the law clearly states what constitutes a change in form. A big thanks goes out to Senator Carlene Walker and Layton City Attorney Gary Crane who has shepherded this bill through the process.

  • Privatization -- Various Positions

As another major issue for local government, we successfully avoided several detrimental pieces of legislation that were geared at disrupting local government services that many of our citizens rely upon. The only bill to pass that has any impact on the cities is SB45 which was substantially altered to ensure that the state does an inventory of all activities that they perform to see if additional privatization efforts can be implemented to promote government efficiency. The bill then has a delayed effective date for first and second class cities to also provide the same inventory. The local government inventory requirement is not in place until 2010 for cities of the first class and 2011 for cities of the second class. In essence, the bill just requires an inventory of all services that are offered by the city. Not a bad result when considering the many detrimental proposal that were initially being contemplated.

Obviously there is a lot more to cover, and we will be doing so within the next few weeks with a complete recap of all legislative activities.... I know it just wets the appetite doesn't it.

Until next time....Enjoy

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Justice Court Software -- Conformity Issues

Just a quick update on an important item that we have received a few phone calls on. SB72 1st Substitute Justice Court Amendments has passed out of the Senate and is now awaiting a hearing in the House. The bill has been discussed at length, but there seems to be a small issue of concern relative to the utilization of various software packages at the justice court level for case management purposes. The current language in the bill reads as follows:

(7) By July 1, 2011, all justice courts shall use a common case management system and disposition reporting system as specified by the Judicial Council.

The question that has been raised is if this language will require the use of CORIS by local justice courts. From the outset the Administrative Office of the Courts has expressed concern with the ability to transmit and receive compatible information between the various justice courts and district courts to ensure that crimes that are committed in one area of the state are reported and recognized in other parts of the state. The key concern that has been highlighted is if perpetual DUI offenders are slipping through the cracks because of recording issues. We had committed early on to a process that would ensure that compatibility issues would be solved to ensure accurate and timely reporting, which is the intent of this language. Because of the delayed effective date of this section, we do feel that enough time has been granted to ensure that we are only doing what is necessary to meet the objective. If it becomes apparent that a move to CORIS is going to be mandated we will have plenty of time to work through this issue and resolve it with the Administrative Office of the Courts as well as the legislature, to ensure that our concerns are addressed prior to 2011. We will track this closely as time progresses and provide periodic updates.