Legislature OKs watered-down bill targeting idling ban

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The Legislature on Wednesday passed a watered-down version of a bill once designed to thwart Salt Lake City's ban on excessive car idling.

Senators voted 28-0 to pass HB104, then the House approved Senate amendments on a 53-22 vote. It now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

"It is now a consensus bill," said Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, the Senate sponsor, because of amendments to water down the bill.

It would now allow cities to have anti-idling ordinances. But not on private driveways — when it comes to private property, it will allow enforcement only in areas open to the general public, such as parking lots.

It also would exempt enforcement in places like approaches to drive-through windows of restaurants or banks as long as signs warn drivers about time limits for idling.

"This appropriately balances the justifiable need to respect private-property rights but also provide for the ability of local jurisdictions to regulate and enforce through educational measures things that may be detrimental to public health," said Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, and a senior adviser to Mayor Ralph Becker.

McAdams offered the amendments that he said were negotiated by all sides

Becker spokesman Art Raymond said Salt Lake City can live with the changes, although it would have preferred no bill at all. He said the city's ordinance was worked out with extensive public input and reflects the will of most capital residents.

Becker had testified against an earlier version of the bill in a committee hearing, saying it was an attempt to trample a local government's rights to do what its residents want.

But Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, sponsor of the bill, argued cities are political subdivisions of the state, which has the responsibility to act if cities overstep their bounds in ways inconsistent with state policy. He argued the anti-idling ordinance did just that.