Deciding which bills to adopt a position can be a tricky business for a group like the Utah Association of Counties. While it sometimes feels good to weigh in on every piece of legislation that one might personally support or oppose, if UAC were to take positions on issues that don’t directly impact county government we risk diluting our brand.
Consider HB 314, this is a bill that at its heart would move the deadline for submitting an absentee ballot from a postmark the day before an election to physically in the hand of the election official by the end of the election date. Administration of the bill is definitely doable–in fact, it would be easier for county clerks to administer than the current law. However, the change in policy is problematic to many county election officials.
Based on data from the 2016 General Election, the provisions within HB 314 would have resulted in the rejection of an additional 55,000 ballots! In 2016, Utah saw the highest percentage of registered voter participation in over 50 years. Had HB 314 been law before that election, it is doubtful that we would have reached those heights.
The policy decision associated with HB 314 might rest with the legislature, but given the facts associated with the bill, UAC saw the need to take a position to oppose the bill.
Looking Forward to Thursday, March 2
- The House Government Operations Standing Committee is considering runoff elections in room 30 of the House Building at 8:00 AM.
- The House Revenue and Taxation Standing Committee is deliberating on unconstitutional (in this person’s view) property tax cuts to airlines in room 445 of the State Capitol at 8:00 AM.
- The Senate Business and Labor Standing Committee is discussing emissions testing at 8:00 AM in room 215 of the Senate Building.
- The Senate Health and Human Services Standing Committee is voting on a very important bill addressing opioid addiction in room 250 of the State Capitol also at 8:00 AM.
- The House Political Subdivisions Standing Committee is hearing testimony on local district taxing authority at 9:00 AM in room 450 of the State Capitol.
- The Utah Association of Counties is holding our last Legislative Committee meeting at 10:00 AM in the Olmsted Room of the Senate Building (or streaming everywhere).
- The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Standing Committee is considering juvenile justice, civil asset forfeiture, and the wrong-headed private attorney general doctrine in room 250 of the State Capitol at 4:10 PM.
- The Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Standing Committee is discussing the administration of the prospective Department of Land Management in room 415 of the State Capitol also at 4:10 PM.
- Review all the bills we’re tracking in committee here.
- SB 174 has come a long way since the start of the session. The bill now creates a transportation governance task force to consider transit. The original version of the bill would have changed the make up of the UTA board. The amended version of the bill passed out of committee today and moves onto the house floor.
- HB 253 has also come a long way since its introduction. The current version of the bill does nothing to restrict a local government from regulating short-term rentals but does prevent a local government from prohibiting posting such rentals to a short-term rental website. It passed out of committee and moves onto the senate floor.
That does it for tonight. For more updates, please plan on participating in tomorrow’s Legislative Committee meeting.
Arie Van De Graaff