Governments thwart bill to restrict competition with businesses
Privatization • Proposal is withdrawn in face of fierce opposition.
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A bill to require governments to perform a study before they offer any new service that could compete with private businesses was thwarted Tuesday by strong opposition from schools, universities, the state prison and local governments —¬†which said it would cost them big money and hurt services they offer.

The opposition led Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, to withdraw his own bill, HB94, and successfully ask the House Political Subdivisions Committee to recommend it for further study after the general session.

"In Utah, we have far too much government competition with the private sector," Anderson said. He added that a friend who operates a video uplink company is being driven out of business by a state college offering similar services — without paying taxes. He said another friend who ran a wedding reception center was put out of business by nearby governments offering rooms for receptions.

Anderson is the owner of ABC Great Beginnings, which operates several private child care facilities and he draws a paycheck as executive director of the Utah Private Child Care Association, a trade group for the industry.

His bill would have required that before a government offers services that could compete with businesses, it would need to study what the affects are, talk to businesses involved and hold a public hearing. If they failed to do so, businesses could sue to stop the government enterprise and have their legal fees paid.

Schools testified it could hurt everything from high school programs in catering and floral design that produce products for sale, to university hospitals that compete with private hospitals or colleges offering any class that competes with a private school. The state prison said it could hurt prison industries, which are already tightly controlled.

Cities and towns said it would force them to do studies before they provide about any service imaginable.

Anderson said he hopes to work over the next year to refine and narrow the bill. Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, said the bill still provided "a wake up call for us to say this is an issue we need to look at."