Utah's lawmakers scrambling to consider legislative proposals
With more than 800 bills to consider during the 2004 session of the Utah Legislature, lawmakers often have to consider what is of direct importance to local constituencies.
The session has been marked by the usual number of nonsense bills that seem to create work for legislators and take valuable time away from the issues mattering to the people the elected officials represent.
For example, House Bill 51 would require fees for out-of-state off road vehicles to operate in Utah.
"At first glance, this bill is a reasonable attempt to get out-of-state snowmobilers and off roaders to pay their fair share of improvements and grooming on Utah trails," stated Brad King, state representative from district 69. "Unfortunately, as a result of further study, we worried about the impact that this fee might have, especially on sponsored local events such as off-road safaris, organized motorcycle races and other similar events which bring in significant amounts of money to our rural economies."
By working with the sponsor of the bill, King believes the lawmakers have found a way to exempt the events from the fee.
"For us, the impact of the fee money would be minimal at best, whereas the money that comes to our communities as a result of motel room rentals, gasoline purchases and restaurant patronage is critical to our economy."
Another issue causing heartburn is the federal no child left behind legislation. Proposed by Rep. Margaret Dayton, House Bill 43 would keep Utah school districts from having to participate in the process.
"Educators and districts in southeast Utah, the state and the nation have almost universally denounced the legislation as well intentioned but ill conceived if not hurtful," King commented. "The measure has mandated sweeping changes in the way schools are operated and evaluated."
"It is estimated that, in order to fully implement these changes, it would cost the state several hundred million dollars, while the federal government has only funded the state about $105 million," added the Utah representative.
King said the bill seeks to send a message to the United States to stay out of education.