Why is the Utah Legislature poking its collective nose into Salt Lake City's affairs? The Utah House passed a bill, House Bill 104, which seeks to supersede a city law that makes it an offense to leave a vehicle idling for more than two minutes.
It is not the business of the Legislature to dictate to cities what their idling laws should be. Pols at the state capitol have better things to do than micromanaging municipalities in this intrusive manner. The hypocrisy is pretty clear as well, since these same pols constantly oppose efforts from the feds to micromanage state affairs.
HB104, hatched by Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, tells cities that it's illegal to have the new idling law, which fines motorists in Salt Lake City between $50 and $210 for idling that exceeds two minutes. The intent of the law, according to its backers, is to improve air quality in the Salt Lake area.
Our opposition to HB104 is not an endorsement of Salt Lake City's law. The key argument is whether the Legislature should be able to interfere. Certainly the law can be an annoyance for motorists, particularly those drivers who commute to Salt Lake City and are unaware of the rules.
However, the most important principle at stake is that Salt Lake City leaders, or officials from any other municipality, should have the right to do what they feel is necessary to protect air quality. Legislators should stay on their turf, and stop bullying a city.
The city has made an effort to publicize the law, and awareness of the law, and its intent to improve air quality is a positive. We hope the bill will idle in the Utah legislative process until it stalls on empty.