2017 Legislature - Protecting Citizens' Rights
The phrase, “the government closest to the people governs best” comes to my mind every legislative session. In Sandy City, we use this phrase as a guiding principle, but also as a cautionary tale.
As a guiding principle, we recognize that residents most notice the impact of their local government and so we encourage resident feedback and involvement to ensure we’re meeting your needs. As a cautionary tale, we also know that just as Utah laments Federal overreach, cities are concerned with a growing trend of State overreach into what are clearly municipal, not state, issues. The inherent risk being that a state bill that intrudes on a local issue can easily become a “one-size-fits-all solution” that is anything but. So while our residents day-to-day notice what local government does, we are very diligent in their behalf to watch and, where appropriate, act on all state legislation that will affect our city and you.
Local governments across the nation, and here in Utah, are experiencing state legislatures focusing their attentions on “fixing” city issues.
This often aggressive preemption of local authority is threatening to impede our ability to meet the needs and protect the rights of our citizens. A legislator may have a well-meaning intention to introduce a bill to fix an issue they’ve seen, not fully realizing that one bill’s solution of a problem in a neighborhood in St. George can create impossible consequences, in Sandy or in Tremonton. Different cities, with very different needs, require local control.
What inevitably happens is the “problem” is NOT fixed, but all cities, and by extension their residents, are now subject to unintended consequences that are harmful.
Local governments and their elected officials have been elected and empowered by the state constitution and their residents with the authority to accurately assess the needs of those they serve. When they do not, they run the risk of not being reelected. That’s as it should be. It is the process by which citizens have a say in how they are governed.
Just as when the Federal government “knows best” and dictates to the states, when the state interferes in local issues, power can be stripped from local officials and their ability to act as advocates for citizens inhibited.
This session and every session, we have a strong presence at the legislature to make sure your rights as Sandy resident are protected, as are our rights as a city. It’s often more important to stop bad bills from being passed than it is to ensure good ones are. For 2017, the Utah Legislature adjourned: Sine Die—adjourned until they meet again.