A bill aimed at avoiding scandals like the $3.5 million one discovered at the Timpanogos Mental Health Center last year was passed to the Senate by the State and Local Affairs Committee.

If passed into law, it would require the state auditor to oversee annual audits of all local political subdivisions and interlocal organizations. It also would require certified public accountants to perform the audits.Critics have charged that independent audits of the Timpanogos center were done by incompetent auditors who were not certified. Those auditors were hired by local officials, not by the state auditor.

The committee has yet to consider a separate bill that would require the state auditor, rather than local governments, to be responsible for either performing the audits or hiring someone to do it. State Auditor Tom Allen said he hopes the bills can somehow be combined.

The alleged abuses at Timpanogos, discovered by the legislative auditor general, led to 117 criminal charges against three top administrators at the center.