The Heart of the Matter
The Utah State Legislature concluded a month ago and now we begin to prepare for the results of the laws that made it all the way through the Governor’s signature. The 2018 session had more bills presented for consideration by representatives and senators than any previous session in history!
Midvale City elected leaders, management, representatives, and its citizens, service agencies and business interests have spent countless hours shepherding, testifying, assembling data, answering inquiries, texting, phoning, and attending committee meetings in person and online. All this to preserve the valuable tax resources, increase State transportation funds, manage the effect of proposed 5G wi-fi antennas within the city rights-of-way, and provide the services our citizens need. Overall, we feel it was a positive year at the legislature.
There were approximately 130 separate bills that were written to affect city government. We had a lot of support from the League of Cities and Towns in monitoring the language, affects and goals, committee status, and lobbying the voting for each of these bills. Some of these 130 bills had some large obstacles to municipal governments. (As I write this article, these bills are on Governor Gary Herbert’s desk awaiting his decision to approve or veto each one.)
Here is a list of some of the prominent bills we worked on with your legislators:
- HB 38 – Fireworks Restrictions
- HB 462 – Homeless Services Amendments
- SB 136 – Transportation Governance Amendments
- SB 189 – Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act
- SB 235 – Homeless Shelter Funding Amendments
For many weeks, City Administration and I spent three to five days on Capitol Hill conferencing with representatives and senators either directly or through the City’s lobbyists. I had an extremely brief moment to testify in favor of SB 235 in committee. After introducing myself to the committee, the chairman said time was short: “Are you in favor of the bill, Mayor Hale?” I gave a thumbs up and exclaimed, “Yes!” The sponsor asked for the vote and the bill passed 4-1 in favor.
I found a convenient way to get to the State Capitol: UTA TRAX from Midvale to the Courthouse Station, then walk across Main Street to the UTA Bus 500 Stop at 449 S Main St. The UTA 500 Free Fare bus came about every 10-15 minutes and carried me up the Hill to either the West end or the East end of the Capitol. The total one-way trip would take 45 minutes. A short walk from the nearby bus stop to the doorways and I was near my appointment.
The few times I did need to drive, it was quite a different experience: traffic, steep hill driving up Marmalade District roads, more traffic, driving around to find the one parking spot “Hambone” was holding for me. (Hambone’s absenteeism was high!) And finally, the blocks’ long walk down steep hills from 10,000 feet above sea level at the intersection of Cortez St. and Girard Ave. to the Capitol grounds through blizzard and rain. And then, of course, there is the return trip which began with buttoning up my overcoat and pulling up the collars for the Alpine mountain climb to 10,000 feet. Then the drive home in traffic.
Or the easy way: I just watched for the UTA bus on the RideUTA.com app on my iPhone. When the real-time icon showed the bus was coming down East Capitol Blvd., I strolled out to the east bus stop for a ride back down to the Courthouse TRAX stop. A safe inexpensive 35 minute ride put me back at a Midvale TRAX stop.
The net effect of our hard work:
- Fireworks use must be contained to July 2-5, July 22-25, and December 31.
- The State of Utah and a very small amount of the Sales Tax normally returned to the cities and counties of Utah will become a fund managed by the State from which cities with homeless shelters can apply for reimbursement for law enforcement costs for resources used for causes specific to those shelters and residents.
- The State will also provide monetary resources through the Department of Workforce Services to the agencies maintaining the homeless shelters. These funds will be augmented by donations gathered by the various shelter agencies.
- The Utah Transit Authority, as we know it today, at least organizationally, will have (1) permanent leadership and local input; (2) more directed to transit development; (3) funds available to counties, and if not counties, then to cities, to fund roadways and transit development; and (4) an equitable method to tax non-gas fueled vehicles; etc.
- One bill we had mixed success with was the 5-G network antennae deployment. The telecommunications industry presented proposals that were difficult to change. As a result, there will come above-ground antennae to broadcast 5-G Wi-Fi signals every couple of hundred feet from within the public rights-of-way. We attempted to reduce the impact of potentially many networks each with their own pole from our streets and neighborhoods, but with limited results.
- The cities of Utah that do not have homeless shelters will contribute sales taxes (normally redistributed to cities) to a fund that cities that have homeless shelters can apply for reimbursements for law enforcement and emergency personnel costs which are designated for the care and protection of properties and people in and around the homeless shelters. Midvale demonstrated a many fold increase in vagrancy, police calls and emergency medical services calls from 2016, prior to the Salt Lake City Road Home Shelter at Rio Grande closing, and into late 2017. To protect businesses, passers-by and citizens, it was necessary to multiply the police presence around 7200 South west of State Street.
I want you to know of our concern for you and your safety, night and day. Our Unified Police Department and our Unified Fire Authority personnel are the best of the best. Thanks to our Public Works Department for keeping our streets clean in each of the brief but heavy snowfalls this winter.