Every year, there is a flurry of activity for 45 days at the Utah Capitol as legislators work feverishly to make good policy to better govern the lives of Utahns. We would be remiss to not take the opportunity to express our thanks for their service, with special recognition to our own representatives who work hard looking out for our city’s interests.
It is almost overwhelming to see the total number of bills passed during the legislative session, but it also makes it clear why we are dedicated to ensuring our residents’ voices are heard and their needs are met. As such, we rely on a variety of people and organizations to build a “legislative oversight team” on behalf of each of you, including the League of Cities and Towns, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Utah Association of Counties, as well as our own staff members who daily track legislation.
At the conclusion of the 2015 Legislative Session, I thought it would be particularly beneficial to highlight a few of the bills we tracked and how the substance of bills may impact your lives.
HB362 Transportation Infrastructure Funding
Effective January 1, 2016, the bill will convert the current 24.5 cents per gallon state gas tax to a 12 percent tax. This is the equivalent of a five cents per gallon increase. This additional revenue is vital for cities and the state to make necessary improvements to roads.
Authorizes a county to impose a local option sales and use tax to be used for broad transportation needs including roads, sidewalks, trails and transit.
HB 396 Solid Fuel Burning Amendments
Much attention continues to focus around improving our state’s air quality. This bill respects the need many have to use wood-burning heat sources to warm their house by prohibiting the Division of Air Quality from implementing a seasonal ban on burning.
SB 296 Antidiscrimination & Religious Freedom
This monumental bill is the result of seven years of consideration. It modifies the Utah Antidiscrimination Act and the Utah Fair Housing Act to address discrimination and religious freedoms by including sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited for unequal treatment.
GRAMA (Government Records Access Management Act)
SB 157 Government Records Amendment
We are fully supportive of government transparency and have an easy process by which all people or agencies can access available government records. As such, we support this bill as it provides an additional level of appeals process at the state level, in addition to the local appeals already available.
HB 79 Substitute Safety Seat Belt Amendments
Representative Lee Perry, a Utah Highway Patrol lieutenant, pushed the seat belt law bill, saying he investigated too many fatal accidents in which seat belts could have prevented death. This bill makes it easier to enforce seat belt laws.
HB 386 Body Cameras for Law Enforcement Officers
This bill did not pass during the session, but was sent to Interim Committee, meaning it will continue to be discussed. All police agencies are examining this issue and working with the legislature to address issues such as activation and use of body cameras, privacy, recording archiving, use and disclosure of recordings, etc. We support this discussion and are actively looking at technologies to improve the safety of both our officers and the public.
This is a small summary of the bills considered and passed by our legislature. We encourage you to stay informed on these and many other issues, as well as becoming better acquainted with your representatives.
Sandy City House Representatives:
District 32 —LaVar Christensen
District 49 —Robert Spendlove
District 45 —Steve Eliason
District 44 —Bruce Cutler
Sandy City Senators:
District 9 —Wayne Niederhauser
District 8 —Brian Shiozawa