A move to privatize some government activities stalled Tuesday, after one of three bills ran into a barrage of questions and clarification issues in a committee hearing.
Rep. Craig Frank, R-Pleasant Grove, wants to expand both the authority and size of the current privatization policy board to "review whether or not certain services performed by existing state agencies could be privatized to provide the same types and quality of services that would result in cost savings."
The bill would also require state agencies to create an inventory of all commercial activities the government is providing.
Frank's bill, HB75, would only apply to state agencies, not county or city operations. That's a change from just a week ago, when Frank wanted all levels of government to be subject to privatization boards.
Members of the House Government Operations standing committee raised questions on which agencies would be included, whether or not the public education system was exempt from the process and how the board seats were disbursed between the public and private industry.
The committee passed an amendment to include state transportation agencies, including the Utah Department of Transportation, despite testimony from UDOT representatives that they are already accounting for operations through an annual presentation to state appropriations committees.
Current language in the bill is not clear on the issue of exempting public schools and Frank was asked by the committee to do further work on HB75 and present it again at the next hearing.
Frank has another bill, HB76, would abolish the current government privatization policy board and force the state, cities and counties 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.
Like Frank, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, wants to crack down on governments overstepping their responsibilities and offering services that should be provided by the private sector.