Two bills before the Utah State Legislature could keep government from dabbling into private enterprise.
The House Government Operations Committee punted a decision on both HB 75 and HB 76 on Monday. Rep. Craig Frank, R-Pleasant Grove, who sponsored the bills, said the state and local governments need to curb activity that is not part of their core missions.
"Some of the things that they may be doing are outside the purview of their statutory duty," Frank said of the state and local entities.
Critics worry that the bills could spell the end of publicly-funded recreation centers, golf courses and reception halls.
Supporters believe the legislation creates more transparency in government.
"The citizens need to know the hows and whys of the services that government is providing to make sure they are getting the best bang for their buck," Eagle Mountain City Councilman David Lifferth said.
HB 75 would require the government to set up an advisory board that would review and create an inventory of all commercial activities the government is providing. The board would then report to the government privatization policy board, which has been in place for years.
The other bill, HB76, would abolish the government privatization policy board altogether. Instead, the state, cities and counties would have to create a commission to whom businesses could appeal the operations of publicly funded projects that compete with them, including golf courses, reception halls and recreation centers.
If the commission finds that a public project is improperly competing with private business and the local government doesn't cease the project's operations, the commission could ask the district court for an injunction.
The bills seems contradictory, said Rep. Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem.
"It seems like we should use what we've already got, and tell them this is how you should be functioning," Fowlke said.
Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, said the state should just expand the authority of current privatization policy board.
One provision of HB75 requires that every two years, the governor must select at least three commercial acts being performed by a state entity. The governor can require the privatization of these after an examination, Frank said.
However, that provision might not fly with Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
"The governor gets a little annoyed when the Legislature tells him what he has to do every couple of years," said Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns.
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