Legislators Need to Stay Out of Local Government

If there's one thing our Legislature just can't resist, it's meddling in the affairs of local governments. From the spat between North Salt Lake and Salt Lake City to the Sandy soccer stadium to the election of school board members, the Legislature isn't afraid to jump in when it disagrees with what a city or county is doing and flex some muscle. By doing so, however, they're being tremendous hypocrites and interfering with principles of good government.

One of the founding principles of a weak federal government is to make sure that the elected officials furthest removed from their constituency had the least amount of direct control over their lives. This principle holds sound for states as well. A city is simply better equipped to immediately dispatch police or fire help, fix the potholes on Elm Street and be more in touch with the people they are supposed to be governing. Additionally, the representatives at the city level live in the areas directly affected by their decisions. Being directly effected by the decisions being made keeps leaders more effective and accountable to the people. State government can lose that perspective, especially when representatives come from such a large geographical area.

What's shameful is that some choice legislators seem to think that the State is a club they can use to bonk localities on the head. Sen. Eastman has crafted a bill to completely upend annexation rules just to give North Salt Lake, a part of his district, an upper hand in wresting control away from Salt Lake City. In his quest to pander to constituents with a shameless special interest bill, he completely disregards the ramifications this could have state-wide. An embarrassing number of legislators circled around the dying carcass of the Real Salt Lake stadium in Sandy to breathe new life back into it. This is despite an overwhelming number of us in Salt Lake County not supporting this fiasco and our County Mayor deciding he couldn't put our tax dollars at that kind of risk. Now the entire state is on the hook for this corporate welfare at such a dizzying pace that folks outside of Salt Lake County barely know what just hit them.

The irony of all this meddling is the Legislature's firm rejection of No Child Left Behind as unnecessary meddling in the affairs of the state and participation in the Sagebrush Rebellion of the early 80's to protest federal land control policies. How is it that a government body that soundly rejects top-down authority used on it is perfectly willing to exercise it on others? It defies the logical mind and offends my sense of propriety.

The Legislature is going to be in for some tough times if it's going to continue to insist upon bullying others into doing what it wants. Sooner or later, we all push back.

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3 Responses

  1. Reach Upward says:

    You echo my sentiments precisely. But on the stadium thing, most legislators (and our governor) clearly believe that they will pay no political price for voting for it. It doesn’t matter what the polls say regarding how the people feel about using government funding for the stadium; it only matters how we vote on Election Day. As long as our elected officials pay no political price for meddling in local affairs, they will continue to do so. It’s up to us to do something about it.

  2. jeremy says:

    I agree legislative should not interfere with local government. However the soccer stadium is a bit different with legislative interfering with local government, because the deal was good with using hotel taxes instead of raising sales tax or other taxes. I was frustrated with the local government mainly with Peter Caroon who kept saying along with uninformed writers from the Trib that he did not want local tax payers paying for the stadium, but with hotel tax people from out of town would be paying for the stadium, plus the economic impact is huge with all of the events that would take place at the stadium.

  3. Al Arnold says:

    I don’t know your issues, but I certainly share your
    thoughts towards State/Local interference. Leave Local Government alone!

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