Republican senator says he ‘hates’ that Utah drivers could be pulled over for idling, but casts decisive vote for bill

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) A sizable source of emissions come from tailpipes, and idling and "warming up" your car is a widespread practice in Utah. In one month in 2016, Salt Lake City police found 600 unattended, idling vehicles in the space of three hours, but it's completely unnecessary. For modern cars, all idling does is release a lot of emissions.

A bill aimed at strengthening municipal anti-idling ordinances and sending a message to drivers about air pollution passed the Senate Tuesday on a razor-thin majority, with a critical lawmaker offering the decisive vote in support.

The chamber voted 15-11 — a minimum 15 votes is required in the Senate — to approve HB148, which allows local idling laws to be enforced after a single warning, down from three warnings in state code.

“We’re trying to take every step we can to reduce vehicle pollution,” said Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, the bill’s Senate sponsor.

Bramble said the bill is largely intended to be educational. Cities individually track anti-idling violations, he said, making it rare for a driver to reach the three-warning threshold.

But Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, objected to the bill and described it as “the epitome of government interference.”

“I just hate that we’re giving law enforcement another thing that they can pull us over for and give us a ticket for,” he said. “It just drives me nuts.”

Anderegg’s comments were met with some amusement in the chamber, as a driver in an idling vehicle could not, by definition, be pulled over in the traditional sense of moving violations.

Anderegg opposed HB148 during a preliminary Senate vote Tuesday morning. But after its final debate in the chamber saw two supporters switch sides, Anderegg offered the final “yes” vote to give the bill majority approval.

The bill will now return to the House for consideration of Senate amendments. If approved there, the bill will go to the governor for final action.