City leaders eyeing bills affecting Cottonwood Heights, like fireworks on Constitution DayFeb 02, 2024 10:18AM ● By Cassie Goff
AI is being used by many residents and city officials for tracking bills this legislative season. (Wikimedia)
The beginning of the new year marks the beginning of yet another Utah Legislative Session. We are officially in the busy season for lobbyists, activists, representatives, senators, elected official, municipal leaders, and interested residents. For Cottonwood Heights city officials, that means attending various meetings up at the State Capital along with meeting with the city’s lobbyists weekly.
“We hope the legislative will respect the traditional role of government and realize that a one size fit all does not address community challenges,” said Mayor Mike Weichers.
The Cottonwood Heights City Council has identified and shared their legislative priorities with the city lobbyists. In terms of funding, the council hopes the State Legislature prioritizes tourism, travel in the canyons, transit hubs, roadway improvements, and public safety and mental health. In addition, they hope the current tax distribution remains constant.
The council would like to see traffic policies for Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon implemented, especially for bussing. They would also like city restrictions on short-term rentals to be lifted by the end of the session.
Principal Lobbyist Brian Allen and Lobbyist Greg Curtis presented their first Legislative Update of the year to the Cottonwood Heights City Council on Jan. 16. They discussed seven house bills (H.B.) of potential concern to put on the city council’s radar.
“There is a lot of unknown out there,” said Allen.
H.B. 5: Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Base Budget has been sponsored by Representative Stewart Barlow and Senator Scott Sandall.
Allen will be paying attention to this bill as it will appropriate the budget for specific natural resources in the state. Of interest to Cottonwood Heights, allocations for trail funding could come from this bill, if passed.
H.B. 11: Water Efficient Landscaping Requirements was proposed and sponsored by Representative Doug Owens.
“This could impose requirements on governmental entities on waterwise landscaping,” Allen said.
Right now, Cottonwood Heights aligns with the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy ordinances for the waterwise landscaping. This bill might be of concern to the city if Representative Owens decides to go vastly outside of what the Water District allows and restricts.
H.B. 32: Short Term Rental Modifications has been sponsored by Representative Stewart Barlow and Senator Daniel McCay.
A thought-provoking question on if trucks and cars can count as short-term rentals has been brought up by this bill.
H.B. 155: Discharge of Fireworks Amendments has been sponsored by Representative Rex Shipp.
This bill would allow for fireworks to be set off in the evening of Sept. 17 for the celebration of Constitution Day.
H.B. 180: Short-Term Rental Amendments was sponsored by Representative Gay-Lynn Bennion.
“Bennion’s bill would give cities some power of enforcement,” Allen said.
H.B. 165: Federal Law Enforcement Amendments has been sponsored by Representative Trevor Lee.
If passed, cities would need to consider the wildlife impact of zoning. Cottonwood Heights Mayor Weichers is hesitant about this bill as the intention and implications for the city are unclear.
The 2024 Legislative Session will run until March 1, with the last day of veto power from the Governor being March 21.
Residents can view current bills by visiting the Utah Legislature website at: www.le.utah.gov
Various Bill Trackers can be found through specific company, entity, and municipality website.
The Utah League of Cities and Towns Bill Tracker can be found by visiting: www.ulct.org/advocacy/bill-tracking
The Wasatch Front Regional Council Bill Tracker can be found by visiting: www.wfrc.org/billtracker/
The Salt Lake Tribune has partnered with Seer to implement a new Bill Tracking tool this year. This is available at: www.app.withseer.ai/explore/us/ut/state λ