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A House committee unanimously endorsed a measure by Rep. Rebecca Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, to remove what she said was a "very wasteful" legislative mandate concerning state grants for art.
"What we have done basically for several years is we have said to the Department of Heritage and Arts, 'We're giving you the responsibility and the opportunity to be the determiners of the state arts] grants,' but we've actually never given them any money," Edwards said Friday.
This unfunded mandate has been "incredibly frustrating" for those in the arts community who've taken the time to apply, process paperwork and determine which applicants qualify for funding "only to be told that, basically, 'we don't have any money for you, so all of your efforts were for naught.'"
Heritage and Arts Director Julie Fisher, a former lawmaker, said she had voted for the bill when serving in the House, viewing it as a solution to the high number of appropriations requests from arts organizations.
Now, however, she's supportive of scrapping the measure.
"We just feel like it's time to go ahead and repeal this and just get it off the books," Fisher said.
If a time comes when the Legislature feels strongly about appropriating funding for the arts through grants from the department, "the process is there. We can revisit it," she said.
"Sometimes we have an opportunity to actually take something off the books that's not working … this is one of those opportunities, and it just makes sense," Edwards said.