There won't be a messy fight between Gov. Norm Bangerter and Republican lawmakers over the hundreds of rules the governor's bureaucrats write each year.
To the average citizen, the argument over administrative rules may seem insignificant. But if you've ever come up against what you think is a stupid rule or regulation - like your toilet seats have to be so many inches from the floor or they violate health code - you know some of the frustration of legislators.Conservative Republicans and Bangerter were prepared for a veto override fight, even appeals to the Utah Supreme Court.
At the heart of the contention was executive vs. legislative powers. But behind it also were strong personalities on both sides.
For citizens, a compromise recently worked out between the governor and lawmakers means you can now complain to your House or Senate member about a state rule or regulation and at the next general legislative session he or she can put the stupid rule in a bill that will kill the measure.
If the governor believes the Legislature has acted even more stupidly than the rule, he can reinstate the rule until the next year's Legislature. They can then argue about the stupidity of the rule in the interim.
Lawmakers wanted to restrict Bangerter's minions from making rules outside their immediate area of concern. That was HB154. Bangerter said he'd veto that bill. The compromise worked out with Republican legislative leaders says they won't override that veto.
A second bill, HB142, says each year lawmakers will reauthorize every state rule except those few they believe are stupid, ineffective or otherwise worthless. Bangerter can reinstate any of those outlawed rules immediately after lawmakers leave the Capitol if he feels it is really needed.
With the compromise, the veto of HB154 and the adoption of HB142, "We can't stop a bad rule from being made. But we can stop a bad rule from being imposed," said Sen. LeRay McAllister, R-Provo, one of the co-sponsors.
Said Bangerter's chief of staff, Bud Scruggs, "The governor has had a long-term commitment to eliminating stupid rules. Like any giant organization, we in state government make our share of stupid rules. This compromise is a good tool in eliminating bad rules. The practical result will be state managers will be more cooperative. If they impose a rule a citizen doesn't like, the citizen can now say, `This isn't over. We'll see you at the Legislature and my legislator will see this rule is killed.' We think that's healthy."
Said Rep. Byron Harwood, R-Provo, another co-sponsor: "The governor promises, in this compromise, not to challenge HB142 in court and we promise not to try in next year's Legislature to restrict his rule-making authority."