Guest editorial: Now it's the middle of the session
The legislature has reached its midpoint, we are having longer and more frequent floor time where we listen to bills and either pass or defeat the bills. The Natural Resources Standing Committee has been very busy listening to bills and passing most of them to the floor for the vote of the whole house.
H.B. 309, Surface Owner Protection Act, sponsored by Representative John Mathis, was heard in Natural Resources Friday afternoon. Rep. Mathis has been trying to get this bill passed for many years. Rep. Mathis had the support of many local residents, most from the Uintah Basin. The bill would require five days notice from any oil or gas mining company before they came onto private surface property to survey, etc. It would also require a forty day notice before they did any surface disturbing work. It requires the company to enter into a surface agreement with the surface owner.
The oil and gas companies are not happy with this bill, they feel they do all they can to notify surface owners and to work with them. We were given a pile of letters from private citizens giving their stories of when this has not happened. The bill passed out of committee and is now on its way to the floor for consideration.
Rep. Jack Draxler's bill that would have required counties of the first, second, and third classification (larger populated counties) to create a committee to help save farm land from development died in committee. There were two major concerns with this bill; it would have required another county committee and a local tax increase. Most people want to save farm land but not at the cost of increased taxes.
The Utah Press Association has worked hard to create a computer program that puts legal notices on the web. It went into operation just a month ago and you can now go to utahlegals.com and pull up the city for which you want to see legal notices. Kudos to the Utah Press Association, of which the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress are members, for creating cutting edge technology for our use.
Monday, Feb. 22, two opposing bills will be debated. HB 80, sponsored by Rep. Lorie Fowlke and HB 141, sponsored by Rep. Kay McKiff, both of which deal with the stream bed use issue. Rep. Fowlke's bill allows recreational use on private stream bed property. Rep. McKiff challenges the Supreme Court Conaster Decision and states that private property is just that - private property. HB 141 was heard in Natural Resources and passed out favorable with a 12 yea, and two nay votes. HB 80 was heard in the Judicial Committee and it too passed out favorably.
It should be an interesting debate; I know that there are strong opinions on both sides of this issue.
HJR 3 Italian American Heritage Month will be successfully completed on Monday Feb. 22. I am very pleased to have been the sponsor of this resolution.
Please continue to email and call me, I value your opinions. firstname.lastname@example.org.