As Legislative Chair of URSEA I try to follow mostly education related bills during the Utah Legislature’s session, and contact legislators with my assessment. I send the e-mails to a list of other people who want my comments, and I ask them to contact their legislators about the bills/issues, whether they agree with my assessment or not, letting their legislators know how they feel about the bills. I get most of my information at the legislature’s web site,, which is pretty user friendly. One can get all of the information on a bill by simply putting the bill number at the top of the screen: name of bill, wording of bill, status of the bill. I also get some information from the UEA web site "Under the Dome",

Below are the messages I have sent during the 2018 Session:  

       -Fred Ash, Legislative Chair of the URSEA

February 7, 2018

Dear Legislators,
I hope the year has started okay for you. Here is my first comment of the year, for what its worth.
Chief Sponsor: Michael E. Noel
Basically, at present, state law gives a city the right to construct waterworks to provide drinking water for a city, and to exercise “Extraterritorial jurisdiction” to maintain the purity of the water source within 15 miles of the city and within 300 feet from the water source. This bill essentially takes that right away from the cities, and places the Extraterritorial jurisdiction in the hands of The Department of Environmental Quality and the local health department, and specifically removes the 15 mile, and 300 feet limits. My guess is that many years ago, it became evident that specific rules needed to be put in place to protect cities’ watersheds as the population grew, so the law was enacted. And my guess is that some of the land within that 15 miles is now owned, with private dwellings, and those land owners don’t like having to abide by the rules established to protect the purity of the watershed, even though when they purchased the land, or tried to develop it, they were instructed as to what the rules are. So the sponsor of this bill would override the right and power of the city with the power of the state so that the landowners could better have their wants met.
The bill does give The Department of Environmental Quality and the local health department authority to establish standards and administer controls to maintain water quality in watersheds to protect human health, etc, but I question how much influence the local health departments will have in the decisions, and whether the state DEQ will empathize with the individual cities. Another micro-management of a local rights/responsibilities by our State Legislature.
I hope the bill doesn’t pass as is.

February 10, 2018

Dear legislators,
I have studied HB136 by Rep. Noel, and HB255 by Rep. Colman. I admit I don’t fully understand all of the small print.
HB 136 doesn’t seem to actually totally remove local control of municipal property, mostly forcing potential sales/transfers of state property to Federal lands to be first reviewed by Rep Noel’s Legislative Management Committee for review of the agreement or proposal. And that the Legislative Management Committee may recommend that the governmental entity execute the agreement or proposal, recommend that the governmental entity reject the agreement or proposal; or recommend to the governor that the governor call a special session of the Legislature to review and approve or reject the agreement or proposal. It doesn’t totally take away the rights/responsibilities of the local entity. But it definitely omits any kind of required action should the local entity be considering a shift from federal control to state control. I have openly stated that I do not trust the motives of some legislators when they fight so hard to get federal lands put into the hands of the state. I have been back east where there are no public lands, and I didn’t like what it felt like, and I know why when new states were approved, public lands were part of the agreements. So I suspect the motives of this bill.
HB255 was a bit longer and harder to understand. But if what I have been told, that this bill prohibits the use of watershed or open space dollars outside of a city’s municipal boundaries, I don’t like this bill. I think that there are times when municipalities need to be able to get together to accomplish things that they can’t do individually, like the way they did to protect Bonanza Flat a couple years ago. I don’t want all of our canyons developed, locked out of the use of the public. Also, this is another instance of a bill that would take away the rights/responsibilities of local entities. So I don’t think we need this bill as written.

February 15, 1018

Re: H.B. 299 STATE INCOME AND SALES TAX REDUCTION --Chief Sponsor: Mike Schultz

Dear Legislators, 
This bill would take effect on March 1, 2019, if, between the date of this bill's passage and March 1, 2019 the state's individual income tax rate increases by .45% or more, and the state's sales and use tax rate increases by .45% or more.
Rep Schultz’s Home Builders responsibilities must have been pretty slow for him to take the time it must have taken to draft this bill. Clearly the bill is intended to use the additional revenue – if the initiative passes – to add funding for transportation and water infrastructure, both of which do indeed need more funding, instead of using the additional revenue to increase funding for public schools, which if the initiative passes is the will of the people of the state.
I hope he is just playing with us, and is actually just being sarcastic. If he is not being sarcastic, instead of again robbing the public education fund, as was done when higher ed was allowed to share the Public Education Fund, and when the single rate tax was approved.; instead of doing that again, he should be spending his time finding ways to fund the increased needs of transportation and water infrastructure.
I hope no one takes this bill seriously, and it is thrown under the rug forever.
Fred Ash, URSEA Legislative Chair