January 31, 2023

2023 Legislative Updates

Dear FRIENDS,

The 2023 Utah Legislative Session is underway, and we could again see significant progress on water conservation and investment in efforts to rescue Great Salt Lake from ongoing collapse. Please do your part to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake ecosystem by contacting your representatives regarding legislation relevant to the health of Great Salt Lake. Here's what we're tracking:

Priority Bills:

S.B. 76 Water Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Sandall, addresses coordination of planning related to water and land use, including requiring certain municipalities and counties to consult with state agencies and others in development of general plans. This bill also appropriates $890,000 for planning. Effective water planning must become an integral part of land use planning and economic development as Utah continues to grow. We strongly support this step toward that goal.

Status as of 2/1: Passed by Senate! sent to House

Who to Contact: Your Representative

S.B. 92 Special License Plate Designation, sponsored by Sen. Plumb, creates the Great Salt Lake Preservation special group license plate and directs revenue generated by the license plate to be deposited into the Sovereign Lands Management Account to enhance preservation of the Great Salt Lake watershed and ecosystem. We support this additional source of funding for the Lake and its recognition of Great Salt Lake as a Utah landmark.

Status as of 2/1: Passed by Senate! Sent to House

Who to Contact: Your Representative

S.B.118 Water Efficient Landscaping Incentives, sponsored by Sen. Sandall, establishes a financial incentive program for the conversion of lawns or turf to water efficient landscaping. Conservation by all water users is critical to the preservation of Great Salt Lake. We strongly support this conservation initiative.

Status as of 2/1: Approved by committee; awaiting second reading in Senate

Who to Contact: Your Senator

S.B. 119 Per Capita Consumptive Use, sponsored by Sen. McKell, defines how per capita consumptive use is to be calculated, requires reporting, and regulates the publication or dissemination of consumptive water use numbers. We are awaiting amendments to this bill to determine our position.

Status as of 2/1: Approved by committee; awaiting second reading in Senate

Who to Contact: Your Senator

S.C.R. 6 Concurrent Resolution Regarding the Great Salt Lake Elevation Targets, sponsored by Sen. Blouin, establishes a target minimum elevation of 4,198 feet above sea level for Great Salt Lake. A surface elevation of 4,198 feet supports the health of the Lake's ecosystem and other beneficial uses according to the Utah Department of Natural Resources' Great Salt Lake Elevation Matrix. We support the designation of this target elevation for Great Salt Lake.

Status as of 2/1: Failed in Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee by 4-2 vote.

Who to Contact: N/A

H.B. 121 Wildlife Habitat Account Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Snider, increases the percentage and amounts of money that go to wetlands that are beneficial to waterfowl and decreases amounts that go to upland and big game projects. We support this investment in critical wetland habitats which support migratory birds and other wildlife.

Status as of 2/1: Sent to House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee

Who to Contact: Committee Members

H.B. 137 State Crustacean Designation, sponsored by Rep. Lesser, designates the brine shrimp as the state crustacean. We support this symbolic recognition of a keystone species in the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. This bill was introduced in partnership with sixth graders from Emerson Elementary School. Read more about this collaborative effort and why the students think brine shrimp should be our state crustacean here.

Status as of 2/1: Sent to House Rules Committee; awaiting standing committee assignment

Who to Contact: House Rules Committee members; Standing committee members, once assigned

H.B. 150 Emergency Water Shortages Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Albrecht, clarifies the process for the declaration of emergency shortages of water by the governor and creates a preference for uses of water during a temporary water shortage emergency. We support this clarification of priorities as Utah faces continued drought.

Status as of 2/1: Approved by committee; awaiting third reading in House

Who to Contact: Your Representative

H.B. 217 School Energy and Water Reductions, sponsored by Rep. Bennion, authorizes the State Board of Education to issue grants to schools related to energy and water reductions with priority given to outdoor water conservation projects, and provides a one-time $9.9 million appropriation from the Income Tax Fund. We support this water conservation initiative.

Status as of 2/1: Held in House Education Committee

Who to Contact: Committee Members

H.B. 220 Emissions Reduction Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Stoddard, enacts the Pollution Emission Reduction Act which imposes certain emission related requirements on the board of the Inland Port Authority. We strongly support this regulation of emissions related to the Inland Port, which is adjacent to critical wetlands on Great Salt Lake's southern shore as well as Westside communities that are already disproportionately impacted by air pollution.

Status as of 2/1: Sent to House Rules Committee; awaiting standing committee assignment

Who to Contact: House Rules Committee members; Standing committee members, once assigned

H.B. 262 Wildlife Management Area Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Snider, establishes wildlife management area purposes and how purposes and conditions for certain uses are to be implemented. There are several wildlife management areas surrounding Great Salt Lake, and we support the protection and effective management of these important habitats.

Status as of 2/1: Sent to House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee

Who to Contact: Committee Members

H.B. 272 Water Efficient Landscaping Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Owens, allows the Division of Water Resources to award grants to local water districts or municipalities that pass appropriate water use ordinances. Municipalities can use grant funding to financially assist property owners in water-efficient landscaping efforts. This bill would incentivize municipalities to adopt regionally-based water efficiency standards and promote water-efficient landscaping. We strongly support this effort to reduce outdoor irrigation in cities throughout the Great Salt Lake basin.

Status as of 2/1: Sent to House Rules Committee; awaiting standing committee assignment

Who to Contact: House Rules Committee members; Standing committee members, once assigned

H.B. 286 Great Salt Lake Funding Modifications, sponsored by Rep. Briscoe, redirects sales and use tax revenue from the Water Infrastructure Restricted Account (WIRA), which collects funding for the Bear River Development and Lake Powell Pipeline projects, to the Great Salt Lake Account for five years to support the management of Great Salt Lake's water levels. We support this proposed use of existing tax revenue to fund urgent water acquisition for Great Salt Lake.

Status as of 2/1: Sent to House Rules Committee; awaiting standing committee assignment

Who to Contact: House Rules Committee members; Standing committee members, once assigned

H.B. 307 Utah Water Ways, sponsored by Rep. Mussleman, creates a new nonprofit, statewide partnership to be known as “Utah Water Ways” and appropriates $2,000,000 in one-time funding. The partnership will facilitate coordination among state agencies and water districts and provide public education campaigns to promote efficient water use. We support this effort to educate the public and our leaders about the necessity of water conservation.

Status as of 2/1: Sent to House Rules Committee; awaiting standing committee assignment

Who to Contact: House Rules Committee members; Standing committee members, once assigned

Additional Bills:

Visit the linked bill pages to view the status of these bills. To receive email notifications about the status of these and any other bills during this session, sign up for the Legislature's tracking service.

H.B. 33 Water Related Liability Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Albrecht, clarifies that water facility owners and operators have a duty to prevent waste of water or property damages, and shields them from liability for damage or injury under certain circumstances.

H.B. 188 Golf Related Water Modifications, sponsored by Rep. Welton, requires reporting of water use for the operation of a golf course or driving range and provides for the publication of the information on websites.

Budget

We support Governor Cox’s recommendations for $561 million in water conservation initiatives, including $100 million to lease agricultural water rights in the Great Salt Lake watershed and shepherd acquired water to the Lake. The Governor's budget recommendations also call for $25 million for the Great Salt Lake Water Trust, $1.5 million for Great Salt Lake and Bear Lake lakebed topographical data, and $160,000 to study air quality impacts from dusts blowing off Great Salt Lake shorelines. Other important recommendations include $5 million for turf removal rebates and funding for key water infrastructure projects like water reuse in southern Utah, and $200 million for the Agricultural Water Optimization Program.

How You Can Help:  

Contacting your representatives during the legislative session is an important responsibility and really does make a difference. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with this legislation and reach out with any questions you might have, then contact your representatives and let them know that you support initiatives to preserve and protect Great Salt Lake. 

Find Your Representatives