Week Five at the Utah State Legislature: Victories and Defeats

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Ah, the small victories. When you spend all your time at the Utah Legislature, it is important take a moment and enjoy them. This week up on the Hill had one and we got the chance to relish in it over the weekend. Let’s get started! 

The Victory! 

HB  134 – Emission Testing Amendments by Rep Patrice Arent would ensure that any county with an emissions testing program also tests diesels. In our last update, we mentioned after what had been smooth sailing, this bill hit some rough waters. In addition to some diesel truck drivers lobbying against the bill, we found out that several Utah County Commissioners were mounting an attack in the House to defeat it. It all came to head this past Friday when the bill came to the floor for a vote. 

As Ashley and I sat nervously in the balcony the floor debate began. What unfolded showed the divisions within the Republican party that we also see on the national stage. In one corner, you had Democrats and moderate Republicans arguing in favor of the bill, urging incremental improvements to address Utah’s air quality problem.

 In the other, you had mostly suburban and rural Republicans arguing against any form of government oversight, especially in the agriculture sector. A lot of them did not seem to understand the bill only affect vehicles registered in Utah County – but hey, never miss an opportunity to grandstand.   

The debate lasted for almost 45 minutes with many legislators weighing in. It was even between yeas and nays; the vote was going to be close! 

One by one the votes trickled in with yes votes maintaining a small lead, but it was tight. Finally, at the last minute there was a surge of yeas and it was enough to put it over the top! HB 134 passed out with 39 yes votes 29 no votes and 9 absent. 

It was a hard-fought victory but it isn’t over yet. The bill now heads to Senate for a committee vote and anything can happen. You can tell your Senator to support the bill by clicking here.    

 The Defeat

So, it wasn’t all rosy last week.

HB 11– State Board Commission Amendments from Rep. Norm Thurston removes the statutory requirement that not all the Representatives on Utah’s state boards and commissions be from just one party. It unfortunately passed a House concurrence vote. It was close, but we lost our chance to stop this at the Legislature. The bill now heads to the Governor’s office for his signature. HEAL and our partners at Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment held a press conference yesterday urging the Governor to veto the bill. Speaking of veto requests….

HB 65– Air Conservation Amendments from Rep. Mike Shultz passed out of the legislature a couple weeks ago. The bill allows wood burning for cooking even on red air days and is a knock against cleaning our air. 

We are urging you to contact the governor’s office by phone and urge him to veto both HB11 and HB65. You can call his office at 801-538-1000. Do it now! It’ll just take a moment.

Heading into this week 

HB29 – Energy Efficient Vehicle Tax Credit Amendments from Rep. Steven Handy has been awaiting a vote by the full House for the last couple of weeks. The bill which extends Utah’s EV credit looks like it will get its chance later this week. You can urge your representative to vote yes on the bill by clicking here. 

SB154 – Solar Access Amendments from Sen. Lincoln Fillmore is one the positive solar bills happening this session. The bill which allows greater freedom for residents of Home Owner Associations to install solar systems is going to a full senate vote probably by the middle of this week. Despite the Senators multiple attempts to compromise the HOA Association is opposing it tooth and nail. The bill should hit the Senate floor in the middle of this week. 

Get involved up on the Hill by helping us to lobby or attend a committee meeting! Just email our Grassroots Organizer, Noah Miterko, atnoah@healutah.org. Floor time is getting longer this week and that means even more opportunities to get involved! 

Don’t forget to also tune in to HEAL’s Capitol Report, every Friday at1:30pm. (Go to HEAL’s Facebook page or call (805) 309-2350 and enter the code 112-3337#) We give you the low-down on all the latest at the Capitol and with a hint of sarcasm.  See you there!