State lawmakers look to address municipal government


SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – A conversation over county and city government at the State Capitol is heating up.

Two bills are addressing growth and transparency for local government. Some say, at least one of them is nothing more than the state trying to flex its muscle over municipalities.

The population in our state is exploding, and some state lawmakers say local governments need to keep up.

Representatives Gage Froerer and Mike McKell are teaming up on House Bill 224.

They say it would create a clear path for larger, growing counties to study a change in the form of government, and potentially put it to voters.

That could open the door to adding commission seats and a county mayor.

“I think it’s imperative that we at least expand our commission to five members, so that we can have districts, so that we can ensure each member of our community has a representative fighting for them and that we have representative looking out for the good of the county,” said Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie.

House Bill 175 would create an oversight committee made up of state representatives and senators to oversee the use of tax dollars across the state.

Representative Kevin Stratton got fired up defending the bill. He says it’s about checks and balances.

“We don’t get to where we are without there being a lot of good. But, I’ll tell you what, if I have a healthy peach orchard that’s growing vigorously, I’ve got to be able to go through and prune broken branches and diseased branches that naturally come with that growth,” said Stratton, (R) Dist. 48.

Opponents see the committee the bill would create as an abuse of power.

“Which would have the ability to subpoena a local government, bring them to the Capitol on any administrative action, or legislative action and essentially evaluate the efficacy of what we are doing as local governments. We clearly see that as an overstep of locally elected officials,” said Lincoln Shurtz with the Utah Association of Counties.

HB 175 has already failed in committee on a 6-4 vote, but it is likely to return.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...