HB175: Bill on general oversight committee creation fails

Legislators gather outside the House of Representatives at the Utah Capitol building in Salt Lake City. On Feb. 1, a bill that would create a joint committee on government oversight failed in committee 6-4. (Savannah Hopkinson)

SALT LAKE CITY—HB175, designed to create the Joint Committee on Governmental Oversight in the Utah Legislature, failed 6-4 in committee Feb. 1.

The bill states its purpose is to “increase the transparency, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of state and local governmental entities.”

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Salt Lake City, the sponsor of the bill, expounded on its purpose during the House Government Operations Standing Committee meeting.

“This is meant to be a benefit to strengthen local control, to strengthen autonomy and to strengthen the efficiency of the role of the government,” Stratton said.

Strong opposition faced the bill, which would enact state oversight over local government entities, including counties, cities and school boards.

Stefanie Bryant of the Provo City School Board said there is already enough oversight over the school board without the creation of a new committee.

“I’m not against transparency, I’m not against oversight, but we already have it,” Bryant said.

Heather Bennett, president of the Board of Education in the Salt Lake County school district, said the bill would create a redundant level of bureaucracy.

“We look very hard at both compliance and best practices in everything we do,” Bennett said. “As local school boards and as community council members, they are already highly regulated, checked and balanced.”

Although several people testified against the bill, some committee members said they liked the general idea, even if the bill may need additional work.

“This concept of a general oversight committee that doesn’t have a fixed schedule is much more responsive to issues and things like that that are happening in Utah,” said committee member Rep. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton.

In response to the many comments about redundancy, McCay said, “I can’t look around the state without seeing redundancy. If we are not about redundancy, I don’t know what government is about.”

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