Rep. Mel Brown introduces a handful of new bills

By Emily Larson

Capital West News

SALT LAKE CITY – Three bills from Summit County Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, reached the House floor this week, including one to shift the responsibility of city incorporation, another to alter budget requirements for the School and Institutional Trust Lands Association (SITLA), and a third to allow legislative staff to purchase lunch for legislators.

Under HB245 the incorporation of a city would no longer be a county issue. Instead, lieutenant governor’s office would be charged with the responsibility. Brown explained that when the state was established, cities and counties were both defined as political subdivisions, completely separate from each other.

“Why should one have control over the other one if they’re both equal political subdivisions of the state,” Brown said in a House committee meeting on Feb. 20.

Aerial View of part of the Jordan River Valley  Source: Wikimedia Commons

Aerial View of part of the Jordan River Valley
Source: Wikimedia Commons

During that same committee meeting, Rep. Kraig Powell, R – Heber City, explained that there is an inherent conflict of interest when counties are deciding whether a city should be incorporated. Sending these requests to the lieutenant governor’s office removes that conflict. According to Brown, the lieutenant governor’s office and the counties support this bill.

The bill would also shift the financial responsibility of incorporations from the counties to the pending municipality.

The bill passed the House and has been sent to the Senate.

HB349 makes changes to budget requirements for the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The administration, created 21 years ago, must have its budget approved by appropriations committees every year. Current law requires those budgets to be specifically arranged into line items.

Brown explained to the House on Monday that promising financial opportunities are presented to the administration and they cannot be acted on because they weren’t included in the approved budget. This bill would allow the administration to make budget changes after making requests to the board of the administration and then the Legislature Appropriations Committee.

“We’re not opening the door completely, we’re cracking it open a little,” Brown said in a Feb. 27 committee meeting. The bill passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

The final bill, SJR11, would allow legislative staff to purchase lunches for legislators as they work through lunch hours during interim sessions. The staff would be reimbursed by funds already in place to cover the legislator’s costs.

In a committee meeting, Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R – Logan, said that during interim sessions the legislators have meetings that go through lunch, and rather than adjourning and leaving the capitol, this law would save time by allowing staff to purchase lunches for the legislators.

This bill is now on its way to the governor’s office.

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