LAYTON -- A key Republican lawmaker predicts the Legislature will take aggressive action to address clean air before the session adjourns next month.
In a town hall meeting Wednesday night, Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said GOP leaders are finalizing legislation to deal with air quality.
"This session we'll try and find a way to deal with air quality. We haven't finalized it, but I think we'll take some efforts to try and help with air quality," Adams said.
More than half of the emissions associated with the inversions this winter have been linked to commuters, and the former Layton councilman said residents need to take a look at the type of vehicles they drive. He did not specify what the clean-air initiatives might address.
Adams and four other local representatives, Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, and Reps. Stewart Barlow, R-Fruit Heights, Stephen Handy, R-Layton and Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, met with a group of about 60 residents to address legislative concerns being addressed on the Hill, and to field some questions.
One resident raised concerns about the number of box-car bills legislators have each session. A box car bill is a numbered bill with a description, but no detail. Adams suggested some of the clean-air proposals may come via the box-car route. He said, by rule, a bill can't go to the House or Senate until it goes through a committee. Lawmakers have priority bills and then are often left to scramble to finalize other initiatives in the tight 45-day window.
"We're trying to deal with an energy amendment. I don't know what the bill is going to look like. How do I deal with that?" Adams asked.
Stevenson said he opened some box car bills this year. He said he used the method to finalize some language in conjunction with the governor's office on a specific measure.
"It's necessary to have some bills that can be used, not abused," the former Layton mayor said.
Handy said he recognizes some lawmakers have used the method in the past to bring bills late in the session, but he said the practice is uncomfortable for most legislators.
"The best public policy is crafted in the light of day," Handy said.
One resident wanted to know why the state is spending so much money on imprisoning people instead of rehabilitating convicted felons.
Wilson noted there are some state programs that are promoting rehabilitation. He said one of them includes a new parole violation center in West Valley that allows people to hang onto their jobs, while also staying in the prison system.
On another related matter, Wilson talked briefly about plans to relocate the state prison from Draper. He said state officials are exploring options and have a long way to go, but he predicted the new prison will not be put on an Indian reservation in Southern Utah.
Barlow, one of four doctors in the Legislature, was left to handle discussion of Medicaid expansion worries in the state and the possible implications of the Affordable Care Act, known by many as "Obamacare." He admitted the financing of medicine is a growing problem for the state and poses significant challenges.