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West Jordan Journal

How will state legislation affect West Jordan?

May 02, 2022 09:12PM ● By Erin Dixon

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

Every year, the state of Utah holds a legislative session for six weeks, discussing and debating potential changes to the state law.

West Jordan City leaders monitored and participated in the session this year, watching for bills that could transform how to run the city.

In April, West Jordan Communications Director Tauni Barker and Senior Assistant City Attorney David Quealy presented a list of bills to the City Council that would make the biggest changes.

House Bill (HB) 22, “Open and Public Meetings Act Modifications,” “requires a public body to establish how a quorum is created when they’re conducting an electronic meeting,” Barker said.

This will likely only include a policy change.

HB 23, “First Responder Mental Health Services,” requires cities to provide mental health care to spouses and children of first responders.

“We have some concerns because we don’t currently extend benefits to spouses and children,” Barker said. “That will be a fiscal cost to us.”

The estimated cost will be presented in the upcoming budget in May or June this year.

Senate Bill (SB) 126, “Officer Intervention and Reporting Amendments,” requires police officers to watch fellow officers, reporting any misconduct. West Jordan’s police chief Ken Wallentine was a central part of making this bill.

“[This] mandates intervention when an officer sees misconduct, if it’s safe to do,” Quealy said. “Regardless, if an officer observes misconduct, then they need to report that. There are very specific reporting processes. Even if you see a police chief or your lieutenant, you still have somewhere to go.”

“Police policies may change, but it’s already how [Wallentine is] running things,” Barker said.

HB 282, “Water Wise Landscaping Amendments,” “prohibits the city from barring residents from installing water-wise [plants] or insisting on turf in areas less than 8 feet,” Quealy said.

Residents will still need to keep the landscaping healthy.

HB 440, “Homeless Services,” “requires counties of the first class to have homeless overflow plans,” Barker said.

The plans need to include space for 75 beds. However, an overflow shelter cannot be near schools, residential areas or churches.

“There are very few places in the city,” Barker said. “At the maximum, [we will host] every four years, unless we choose to host more often.”

State officials have allotted West Jordan $250,000 to help. West Jordan Police Chief Ken Wallantine said this amount of money will “be eaten up by police fees in a month.”

“I don’t think any [other city] has enough space,” Barker said.

HB 462, “Utah Housing Affordability Amendments,” “may have the largest impact,” Barker said. “In the end it will modify moderate income housing plans. There’s additional reporting required. As a city, we can’t create affordable housing. We can create zoning that would allow it, we can encourage affordable housing. At the end of the day, developers are going to sell what they can sell for.”

Modifications will be made over the next year, and some changes will be announced in city council meetings.