With hard financial times approaching, legislators were told to start investigating the costs of sharing information between state agencies now, even if they are not counting on getting the money immediately.

Ty McCartney, a former Democratic legislator from Salt Lake, told the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee on Wednesday that there may be a bill in the 2009 general session to acquire software and equipment that would allow police agencies to better share information. It could be technology that extends to other agencies, as well.

Shared databases and quick access to an assortment of information would be a highly valuable tool for police officers in the field — and these benefits could extend even farther in the future, he said.

Lawmakers did not dispute the value of having better and more streamlined information sharing. But Sen. Bill Hickman, R-St. George, warned that the money picture looks extremely grim and noted that software programs, while useful, also are expensive.

"We're looking at serious fiscal difficulties," Hickman said. "I wouldn't rush right out ... with the idea of getting it in the next year or two."