Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ambulance Legislation Reviewed

As the session continues, it appears that the ambulance service bill is clearly getting the post attention. It could be that practically every lobbyist on the hill has been hired on this bill, or it could just be a sincere interest in making sure we get quality ambulance service -- you decide :)

In light of the scrutiny that this bill is receiving, I thought it would be well to outline the most recent concepts surround the legislation, so here they are.

  1. The current legislation is limited to first and second class counties, and allow private ambulance providers to compete against each other at the hospital/patient level to provide ambulance service on non-911 calls (inter-facility calls).

  2. A proposed substitute has been circulated by Southwest Ambulance to allow cities/towns to determine if they would like to RFP ambulance service, and if so they can maintain geographic exclusive contracts so that only one provider is able to provide service within the given city. If a city decides to opt for the RFP, such a designation must take place prior to January 2010. If no RFP model is designated, then the area is open to competition at the hospital/patient level and no geographic exclusivity is provided. Under this model cities can respond to their own RFP

  3. Gold Cross has also proposed substitute language that would mandate an RFP model that would be administered by the Department of Health. Cities and private providers can respond to the RFP and geographic exclusivity is granted to the winning bidder. Once a contract is obtained, that contract is good for a period of 4 years and can only be challenged after the 4 year period expires. This model would be made available on a statewide basis

  4. Based on feedback from ULCT Policy committee, we have been arguing that we are okay with an RFP model so long as cities can respond to the RFP and cities either control the RFP process, or the cities recommendation to the Department of Health is given deference unless the Department can demonstrate that the recommended provider is unable to provide the necessary services.

At this point it is unclear which model will be pursued, but all ideas are on the table for consideration. We will be following this closely and will be sure to provide future updates.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Billboards, Townships, and Ambulance Legislation consume the week

This week has largely been consumed with discussions on billboard legislation, townships, and ambulance service; but I am happy to say that we have been pretty successful on all fronts. I will quickly go through each.

1. Billboards: As expected, both Billboard bills have come out of committee, but not without much discussion and concern expressed. We have subsequently been able to sit down with members of the billboard industry to discuss both bills and think that compromises are in the works. HB141, which limits local height restrictions will likely be amended to allow for greater municipal input on surface street sign height, in exchange for more flexibility of freeways. HB272 which deals with sign restrictions on scenic byways will also likely be amended to address oversight concerns with the Byway Committee, but will not allow for automatic segmentation of scenic byways. This bill has more work to be done, but it appears the direction we are heading is positive.

Townships: I may be speaking too soon, but a township meeting tomorrow will likely tell us where we stand on a compromise with the counties. It appears that there is only one sticking point that should be easily resolved. It deals with who has ultimate authority to grant an annexation from a township to an existing city. We have argued that a neutral third party should be responsible for that decision, while the county feels that they should have final say. Outside of that issue there appears to be consensus on the bill --- Hope we can come up with something.

Ambulance Service: This has been an interesting ride. The arguments only appear to be getting louder and more obnoxious. We have expressed deep concern with allowing ambulance providers to have direct contracts with hospitals with little oversight of service delivery and response time. We do, however think the obnoxiousness is about to break and real negotiations are soon to occur. We will keep holding out hope, and let you know how it goes.

On a final note, it appears that a deal is in the works on impact fees for schools and state facilities. We will post the details in our next post, but thought we would at least let you know that our suggested language is being incorporated to ensure impact fees are paid, but have made some concessions to ensure that there is more predictability and transparency in the impact fee process. Look for more info in future posts.

Until next time...Enjoy!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Week 3 Update

Well, things are finally taking shape, so here is quick run down of current issues:

1. Transportation Funding: Still a huge issue for both the state and local government -- the only hurdle is getting past a dreaded tax increase. While everyone agrees we need to continue with both state and local projects, no one wants to raise taxes. Other issue -- making sure any revenue enhancement has a local road component.

2. Impact Fees: Fees on Schools and state facilities are being heavily scrutinized. We are looking for ways to increase accountability and consistency in an effort to reduce legislative pressure to remove our ability to impose such fees on schools and state facilities.

3. Billboards: Another big issue, not sure of the right answer, but reducing local government's role in relocation of existing signs that are being displaced due to road construction has many concerned. We are working with interested parties to get this one resolved.

4. Water: Seems like all of the water bills have been figured out. I think we have this issue corralled for now.

5. Ambulance Service: The bill that wold allow for inter-facility transfer contracts between private providers and hospitals has many concerned about the impacts that such contracts could have on current E-911 service. The bill passed out of committee on Friday, and a "full court press" is on for the House. We have huge concerns -- look for talking points on this one soon.

As you can imagine, there are many other issues out there. Please review our status sheet at If you have any questions please feel free to inquire.

Until next time...Enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Impact Fees Take Center Stage

Today was dominated by discussions on impact fees. We have several impact fee bills up for consideration during this legislative session, and it appears that the tsunami of impact fee bills is upon us.

First, we spent a good portion of the day negotiating with members of the state capital facilities departments on whether or not state projects should be subject to impact fees. This bill, HB274, sponsored by Rep. Wallis we preclude the imposition of impact fees on state facilities. Obviously this causes a fair amount of concern from those communities that anticipate hosting future state facilities. Fortunately, the discussions on this stuff is going fairly well and a solution should be forthcoming.

On the other hand, Representative Steve Sandstrom passed his HB259 out of a house committee today, which allows the bill to have full consideration of the house. His bill would preclude the imposition of impact fees on schools. The ULCT in coordination with the Home builders and Realtors has opposed the bill, but there appears to be enough skepticism about the methodology behind calculating impact fees that there appears to be a growing sentiment behind limiting impact fees. Obviously we will be working diligently to address these concerns and negate the necessity of this legislation. Talking points to articulate our concerns will be sent out soon.

In other news, we have also received a good-faith commitment from the sponsor of the billboard legislation, HB272, to address our concerns with that bill. We will be trying to work through those issues in the next few days and will report back with our progress, but certainly a positive note to have that commitment and we owe our thanks to Rep. Herrod for his willingness to work with us.

On a final note SB135 Taxation Authority of Special Districts also passed out of committee today and will advance to the Senate floor. We have a commitment from the sponsor to address our concerns relative to limiting the tax authority of some special districts (namely water and sewer districts) and feel comfortable that our concerns will be addressed. The intent of the bill is to limit its applicability to service areas instead of applying it more broadly to service districts. With that change, we limit the impact to a very few entities. If you would like more specifics on this one let me know.

That about does it for today. I hope this finds you well... ENJOY!