HB 269 Tourist-Oriented Highway Signing Program TODS Program: This legislation was requested by the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Office of Tourism.

The driver behind the legislation was a small business owner from Tropic, Utah, named John Holland. Holland owned a bed and breakfast business (since sold), that was located off a designated scenic highway. The present statute does not allow for signing along a scenic highway. UDOT however can place logo signs along designated routes for tourists and others to locate restaurants, gas stations and hotel motel accommodations.

This bill authorizes the Utah Department of Transportation to erect, or by contract erect, administer and maintain tourist-oriented directional signs that display logo advertising and information of interest to the traveling public on “rural” conventional roads.

HB 254 Livestock Branding Amendments: This legislation was requested by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Utah Brand Inspector. The bill identifies a “Livestock Emergency” as the presence of a contagious, infectious, or transmittable disease risk to livestock or a natural disaster, which may affect livestock such as a flood, catastrophic fire, earthquake, storm, etc.

During a livestock emergency, the brand department may require a person transporting livestock to present the livestock for brand inspection.

In addition, the legislation requires that any private or public website created within the state of Utah that markets the sale of livestock shall display a statement on each page of the website that purchasers or sellers of livestock must comply with Utah State Laws.

HB 319 Jail Contracting Treatment Rate Amendments; This legislation raises the contract jail treatment programming rate by $7 per day. Over the past 13 years, Representative Mike Noel has been one of the strongest voices on Capitol Hill for jail contracting in rural and urban counties. Noel’s district has the largest number of state contract inmates, and the largest number of program beds available for drug, alcohol and sex offender treatment programs. The cost of these programs is paid by the county contract jails with some reimbursement from the state. In addition, the state pays the county jails on a per prisoner per day rate.

In 2004, Representative Noel changed the state statute to assure the county contract jails receive up to 70 percent of the state cost of a state prisoner in the Draper and Gunnison facilities by establishing the state daily incarceration rate (SDIR).

Contract county jails are not yet at 70% of the SDIR, but the legislature, with support from the governor, has steadily increased the contract rate. And it has been proven that treatment reduces recidivism. It costs the taxpayer almost $30,000 per year to house a convicted felon. The counties can reduce that number by 30 percent. The 1800 state inmates in county jails not only provide much needed family jobs to the local economies of rural counties, it also reduces the state corrections budget by almost $20,000,000 per year.

HB 401 Statute of Limitations Modifications: The Assistant Attorney General for the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office requested this legislation. The bill simply states that actions against the federal government regarding real property and that are subject to the Federal Quiet Title Act do not expire under state law. This legislation was written in response to a lawsuit filed by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) in Tooele County seeking to stop the state from using witnesses and information from historical records to determine if an RS2477 road meets the requirements of the Federal Quiet Title laws. It is the same tactics SUWA and their supporters have used against Kane County to delay and obfuscate the record until witnesses die, while the state spends millions of dollars to fight them in court to bring the record to light.

HB 393 Energy Zone Amendments: This legislation adds areas in San Juan County to the state plan. The National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy Management Act and the United State Forest Service Administration Act of 1897 (modified in 1976) directs the federal government and these agencies to the “greatest extent possible” to coordinate and defer to local, county and state plans. This bill puts these energy zones that have great economic benefit to local counties and cities and to the state in statute. Garfield, Emery, Piute, San Juan and Carbon Counties all have energy zones in their boundaries. The School Trust Lands strongly supports this legislation since it allows for recognition of valuable minerals on the federal lands which will benefit the interspersed SITLA lands located in those same areas. All the monies from the development of SITLA lands goes to the beneficiaries, who are the school children of Utah.

HB 384 Grazing Zones: This legislation sponsored by Utah Association of Counties and the Washington County Commission is very similar to the Energy Zones Amendments legislation, except it deals with valuable grazing zones. Washington County and numerous counties in the state, including Kane and Garfield, are now in the state plan.

H.C.R. Concurrent Resolution on Carbon Sequestration on Rangelands: This resolution passed by the Utah House and Senate and approved by the governor, calls on the President of the United States to direct federal agencies to implement management practices that increase soil carbon sequestration to the maximum amount possible, and urges similar actions in each state. Science has shown that emphasizing improved soil health as the primary means of removing atmospheric carbon dioxide represents a win/win solution to the current climate change controversy.

The legislation states that the national debate over whether and to what extent human activity is contributing to climate change is controversial and divisive, but needn’t be so since the utilization of proper forest and range management principles greatly improves the natural sequestration that occurs in these properly managed forests and rangelands. This bill was brought to Representative Noel from Steve Rich (part owner of the Kaibab Lodge at Jacob Lake) and Sheldon Kinsel, former staffer for the late Congressman Bill Orton. Both men have worked hard to encourage policy makers in government to consider this approach to climate change.