Despite arguments that it is trampling on cities' powers, the Utah House approved a bill Friday designed to thwart Salt Lake City's ban on excessive car idling.
After amending HB104, the House voted 42-28 to approve it and sent it to the Senate.
Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, the bill's sponsor, complained that the city's ordinance allows ticketing not only cars idling more than two minutes in public spots, but also those in private parking lots or driveways. "I think that's abusive and a violation of property rights," he said.
Harper's bill originally would have banned cities from making any ordinance about idling but was amended on the House floor by Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, so that it would allow only ordinances that are "primarily educational."
It would require that at least three warnings be given to a person before a ticket is issued, that the fine structure be the same as for parking violations and that police could not enter private property to issue tickets unless invited by the property owner.
"Here we go again, micromanaging local government," said Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek. "How many of you want this from the federal government? Every day we hear complaints about the federal government telling us what to do. This is not an egregious situation where the state government is to step in and tell a city how to manage its business."
But Harper argued cities are political subdivisions of the state, and it has the responsibility to act if cities overstep their bounds in ways inconsistent with state policy.
"Why take this decision away from your local city council members?" asked Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City. "Please keep it at the most local level."
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker testified against the bill in an earlier committee hearing, saying it was an attempt to trample a local government's rights to do what its residents want. He said Salt Lake City has a different mindset than other parts of Utah and a city should be allowed to regulate based on its population's wishes.