Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mayor Becker Attributes Legislative Success to Relationships and Having a Seat at the Table

Becker Worked with Legislators to Advance Key Elements of 180-Day Plan

SALT LAKE CITY – The first legislative session for the Becker Administration has concluded and by all accounts ended on a high note for the new Mayor of Salt Lake City, with several key victories and very few bills passed that negatively impact Utah’s capital city.

“I always viewed this session as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for future sessions and to build trust with the Legislature. We came in with a different attitude and in good faith, believing that common ground can be found on most issues. I think the final outcome shows this approach served Salt Lake City very well,” Becker remarked.

One key element of the Becker Administration’s legislative approach was working closely with the City Council to present a united front to the Legislature. In fact, each time Mayor Becker testified during the session, he was accompanied by at least one member of the City Council, who worked collaboratively with the Mayor to advance the City’s priorities.

Jill Remington-Love, Chairwoman of the City Council said, “Mayor Becker set the standard for diplomacy and exemplified how you work out issues. Working closely with Mayor Becker, we had a seat at the table to negotiate all of the important pieces of legislation Salt Lake City cared most about this session.”

Some of the key positives that came out of the legislative session for Salt Lake City included:

  • Domestic Partnership Registry - After facing a very real threat that the registry would be overturned by the Legislature, the session ended with a compromise bill in which Salt Lake City’s registry was essentially untouched, despite a name change. Mayor Becker remarked, “While we don’t believe that any state action was necessary, we’re happy the legislation that was passed was tempered and will allow the registry to go forward. I praise the members of the Legislature who were willing to work collaboratively with us and achieve a compromise.”
  • Riparian Corridor – Despite attempts by the Legislature to take away Salt Lake City’s ability to protect areas around the City’s riparian corridor, Mayor Becker was able to work to promote the protection of the capital city’s streams and waterways. Through negotiation, that bill never made it to committee.
  • Alcohol – A bill that had potentially far-reaching negative implications for businesses and residents of Salt Lake City was amended at the urging of Salt Lake City. Through the skillful negotiations of the City, the bill was amended and urban interests were protected. Now restaurants and businesses around libraries and parks will be allowed to receive a variance from the City to serve alcohol.
  • Airport TRAX Funding – The Legislature restricted the City’s ability to use airport surplus monies for the portion of the TRAX line built on airport property. Despite this fact, Mayor Becker still felt the City made progress. “We began the session trying to convince the Legislature that building a TRAX line to the Airport was important and ended with some funding mechanisms,” the Mayor said. “While I continue to be concerned with the Legislature’s willingness to overstep its bounds by telling Salt Lake City how to manage its own City departments— in this case the Salt Lake International Airport— I was pleased legislators provided funding to partially offset the funding restrictions, which will allow the construction of the airport line to move forward.”

One of the most notable negative outcomes for Salt Lake City was the so-called School District Equalization bill. “We felt strongly that since Salt Lake City residents and business owners didn’t vote to split the Jordan District, they shouldn’t be required to foot the bill,” explained Becker. “I didn’t see the legislation as an effort to hurt Salt Lake City; rather it was a politically expedient decision to find a way to fund the Jordan District split. Unfortunately, the levy for the Jordan School District tax came down on Salt Lake City and other Salt Lake County property owners.” Mayor Becker is planning to ask Governor Huntsman to veto the legislation.

“We hope the relationships we built this year will help us next year,” said Mayor Becker. “We plan to be even more aggressive and continue to educate the legislature about the importance of helping the capital city. I deeply believe that when the State Legislature helps the capital city, they help the whole state of Utah.”

Mayor Becker concluded, “At the end of the day the State Legislature didn’t go out of its way to hurt us or to help us. Working together with the City Council, we impacted public policy to the benefit of our constituents in Salt Lake City.”


Salt H2O said...

Hmm...Dem's see that Becker a democrat is having great success due to his experience.

Do you think this local example of experience and relationships being successful convert any Obama supporters towards Hillary?

Anonymous said...

No, because Obama has experience too.