21 days down, 24 more to go!
With week 3 of the Utah legislative session officially wrapped up, we bid farewell to Energy Week, which brought significant discussions and decisions on the state’s energy future. But now, as we dive headfirst into Week 4, it’s time to shift gears and embrace Transit Week!
In honor of National Transit Week, our dedicated team is redirecting its focus towards legislation aimed at making alternative transit options, such as public transportation, biking, and trails, more accessible and well-funded. Did you know that emissions from vehicles rank as one of the major contributors to air pollution in Utah’s picturesque valleys? This is precisely why it’s crucial to find innovative solutions that reduce our reliance on traditional vehicles and forge connections within our communities through sustainable alternatives.
Join us as we explore the exciting developments, bills, and proposals that will help transform Utah’s transportation landscape, making it more eco-friendly, efficient, and accessible for all.
Here is a breakdown of the new pieces of legislation that HEAL Utah is watching and strategizing around.
- House Bill 449 Pedestrian Safety and Facilities Act Modifications would require bicyclist safety to be “considered” in street design (in addition to pedestrian safety), enhance guidelines for pedestrian and bicyclist safety devices, and provide flexibility in allocating new funding sources for these devices when they align with road needs.
- FUNDING REQUEST: Active Transportation Planning and Community Assistance $250,000 one-time funding to help four municipalities/schools create transportation plans, offer technical support for planning, safe routes to school, GIS help, and funding for other projects, and organize cycling safety education and events in at least 10 communities.
- FUNDING REQUEST: 5600 West Westside Express $4,000,000 to help fill a funding gap in finishing the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA’) Westside Express. The Westside Express will provide public transit along 5600 West.
- House Bill 401 Water Usage Amendments This bill deals with when you can irrigate your lawn in certain counties, from October 1st to April 30th. It says you can’t water your lawn during that time, except for some exceptions. If you break this rule, you might have to pay fines. This law won’t apply to farmland.
- Senate Bill 170 Clean Truck Incentive Program This sets up the Clean Truck Incentive Program with the Division of Air Quality. The program offers money for people to replace old polluting trucks with clean, zero-emission ones. The funds go through clean truck contractors to the buyers of clean trucks. To be eligible for this, the old truck you’re trading in must be at least 8 years old
- House Bill 448 State Water Program Reporting Requirements address reporting requirements and collaborations for water optimization efforts through the legislature and state agencies.
- House Bill 373 Environmental Quality Amendments Makes changes to the Air Quality Advisory Board, giving more power to the Coordination Council and adding members from the manufacturing and fuels industries.
- House Bill 374 State Energy Policy Amendments Modifies state energy policy and establishes priorities for investment and importance to the state.
- Senate Bill 156 Tax Modifications new tax rate for specific uncontained and unprocessed class A radioactive waste
The Good: Movement on Bills HEAL Utah Supports
- House Bill 11, Water Efficient Landscaping Requirements, which would restrict the use of lawn or turf on new government builds within the Great Salt Lake Basin, has passed the Senate Floor with 19 Yeas, 9 Nays, and 1 absent. This bill now has to go back to the House for a signature before it is sent to Governor Cox for approval.
- House Bill 85 Electric Bike Amendments, which would clarify the definition of electric bikes, including that assisted bicycles are not mopeds or motorcycles, has passed the Senate Business and Labor Committee with 5 Yeas, 0 Nays, and 3 absent votes.
- HB 109 Safe School Route Evaluations, which would have required the school traffic committee to include recommendations for infrastructure improvements in child access routing plans, unfortunately failed in the House Transportation Committee, with 5 Yeas, 5 Nays, and 2 Absent votes.
- Senate Bill 153, Idling Amendments, which would have allowed local highway authority to enact an ordinance to prohibit or restrict owners or operators of a commercial vehicle from idling for more than three minutes, failed to pass the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, HEAL Utah gave public comment with our insight on idling.
The Bad: Movement on bills HEAL Utah opposes
- Senate Bill 57, Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act, A bill that will enable Utah to challenge presidential executive orders or federal regulations that lawmakers think infringe on the state’s sovereignty, has now been signed into law by Governor Cox. HEAL Utah opposes this bill as it will create disastrous consequences for environmental regulations. We thank the over 200 individuals who took action and urged Gov. Cox to Veto. We will now look into the legality of this bill.
- Senate Bill 172, Protection Areas Revisions, a new bill that would create provisions allowing for the construction of Parley’s Canyon Mine, has been assigned to the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Service Committee. We are expecting this bill to be heard on Wednesday, February 7th, at 2:00 PM. We will alert our following once this bill is posted on an agenda.
- Senate Bill 155, Road Usage Charge Program Amendments, a bill that would weaken the Road Usage Charge Program, creating additional registration charges for electric vehicles and excluding hybrid cars from the program, has passed the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee and will not be heard on the Senate Floor.
- House Bill 241 Clean Energy Amendments, a bill that would add nuclear and coal bed methane to the definition of “clean energy,” has passed the House Chamber and is now being sent to the Senate.
- House Bill 191 Electrical Energy Amendments a bill that would set conditions for when the Utah Public Service Commission may approve the early retirement of an electrical generation facility, passed the House Public Utilities, energy, and Technology Committee, and will now be heard on the House Floor.
- This week our team will be working on an action alert and help individuals with public comment on several bills, including, Senate Bill 172 and Senate Bill 155. We are also gearing up for appropriations which decide how and where to spend the government’s money for different programs, projects, and research. While appropriations are not specifically bills/laws but rather requests of funds, individuals are still encouraged to provide feedback on where YOUR tax payer money is being spent.
Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, February 6, virtually at 10 AM, or in person at the Utah State Capitol for our second community lobbying training! Get a quick breakdown of the legislation we are tracking, tour the capitol, and get a chance to speak face-to-face with your lawmakers. (It’s not as scary as it sounds!)
Join the movement for cleaner air in Utah!
Our state’s air quality is at risk due to vehicle, building, and industrial emissions, along with the shrinking Great Salt Lake. But there’s hope! You can make a difference by taking action today. Together, we can tackle short-term respiratory problems and long-term chronic illnesses caused by poor air quality. HEAL is leading the way with advocacy for clean air policies, and we need your voice. Fill out our action alert now and reach out to lawmakers to prioritize measures like reducing vehicle and building emissions, enforcing stricter industrial regulations, and safeguarding the Great Salt Lake.
Join us to shape Utah's clean energy future!
Our growing population demands a shift from fossil fuels to renewables, benefiting both the environment and our economy. Currently, 85% of our energy is fossil-based, posing health and climate risks. HEAL Utah advocates for renewable energy policies, job creation, and workforce training. Support our cause by filling out this alert to urge lawmakers to back renewables and build a cleaner, healthier Utah!
More ways to Take Action
For a detailed breakdown of ways to get involved during the legislative session, be sure to read our “TAKE ACTION DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION” guide. It provides step-by-step guidance on how you can influence policies and support our mission.