Legislative Update

APRIL 2016

Post Date:09/20/2016 2:05 PM

How Capital Hill Will Affect Your Home

The 45-day legislative session is officially at an end, with many issues affecting cities. The Utah League of Cities and Towns represents and advocates on behalf of Utah’s 245 cities throughout the year, but most importantly, during the legislative session when bills are being considered that could both help and hinder our ability to effectively provide services to residents.

Of the more than 1000 total bills filed during the session, 254 had potential city impact and were being followed closely by the League and Sandy City. A few highlights of interest include:

Short Term Rentals

Most of us are familiar with AirBnb, VRBO and similar companies that list properties within a city that are being rented out by owner—either a room or an entire residence. Having experienced multiple problems with this issue during the Olympics, Sandy City responded to resident concerns by restricting such practices by ordinance. Most other cities do not have a restrictive ordinance in place and this residence-rental trend is becoming increasingly popular. This bill could have taken away a city’s ability to restrict such rentals anywhere, regardless of zoning, thus forcing individual property owners to be subjected to problems that may arise with no recourse. Thankfully, all parties concerned have agreed to discuss this issue in the off-season and see if there is a compromise that can be reached.

Police Body Cameras

Speaking to the nationwide concern of violence both from and directed at law enforcement, a consensus bill was passed with valuable input from local government, law enforcement, the ACLU and the media. The bill manages to carefully balance the needs of transparency and openness of government, privacy, law enforcement and victims. It outlines when officers with cameras must activate them and what footage is considered private and public. In essence, it requires officers to activate a camera prior to any law enforcement encounter as soon as reasonably possible for all enforcement stops, dispatch calls, field interviews, use of force, warrants and traffic stops. Exceptions include sensitive conversations with crime victims or informants where the value of the information outweighs the value of the recording.

Infrastructure Funding Decrease

While the good news is that by 2023, $70 million will have been re-routed for both education and water needs, the bad news is this state sales tax revenue is currently allocated for transportation capacity projects.  Cities are already experiencing shortfalls in necessary infrastructure and this will certainly make both new construction and maintenance of existing infrastructure that much more of a challenge.

Legislators and the public rightfully expect local government to facilitate economic development, provide quality services and have updated ordinances and reasonable regulations. As such, the League and Utah cities work with legislators both during the session and out of session on these key issues, making sure your interests are protected! 

Return to full list >>