SALT LAKE CITY - A Top of Utah lawmaker is proposing the creation of a task force to look at potential changes in the state's court system.
Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, said the task force will specifically talk about possible modifications of second-tier courts. He said the task force is the result of perceived problems with the court system and some disagreement about how to proceed with potential modifications.
"We realized that the court system is big, complicated and has a lot of moving parts. A solution of this magnitude deserves more conversation than this committee," Peterson said Wednesday, when a review of his proposal was discussed by a judiciary interim committee.
The committee chose not to vote on whether to forward the measure with a favorable recommendation, after Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, suggested task forces are too common a tool to address matters. He advised Peterson to create publicity about the task force and some of the issues it will tackle, in attempting to move his proposal through legislative review, when the Legislature convenes in January 2014 for a 45-days session.
The task force would consist of 15 members, including six state lawmakers, and then representatives from the legal community, one representative from the Utah League of Cities and Towns and one civilian. It would have a budget of just over $18,000 to potentially deal with costs of bringing people together to undertake the two-year review.
Several members of the interim committee suggested the bill may need to modify the makeup of the committee.
Rep. Patrice Arent, R-Holladay, said she is not comfortable with the makeup of the task force as outlined and urged Peterson to take the bill through the legislative process next year. If the interim committee had chosen to give the measure a favorable review, the bill would have skipped some of the committee review process required by both House and Senate rules, before debate is generated on the floor of both bodies.
Rep. Lavar Christensen, R-Draper, also suggested the task force needs some fine tuning. He said there is some merit to discussion about potential court modifications, but he worried a task force wouldn't take into account some past history of other changes.
Peterson, who is a real estate broker and not a lawyer, said he never intended to railroad the task force through. "We want to come up with holistic and well thought out solutions," he said of potential court issues.