Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 Utah Legislature Wrap-Up

The 2012 Utah legislative general session has come to an end. Below is a summary of bills that passed, as well as some important bills that did not pass (and that we may see again next year).


House Bill 127: Navajo Water Rights Negotiation Account
HB 127 establishes funding for drinking water projects to serve the Navajo Nation

House Bill 153: Diversion of Water
HB 153 allows the State Engineer to reinstate a lapsed exchange application under certain circumstances.

House Bill 485: Change Application Amendments
HB 485 is in partial response to the Salt Lake City v. Big Ditch case. The bill requires that a change application filed on a federal reclamation water right must be signed both the federal government and the local water users organization that is contractually responsible for the project.

Senate Bill 134: State Water Development Commission Amendments
SB 134 changes the make-up of the State Water Development Commission, including increasing the number of legislative members and turning the other members into non-voting members.


House Bill 67: Storm Water Capture Amendments
HB 67 sought to allow for detention of storm water and to amend the rainwater harvesting statute.

House Bill 174: Sales and Use Tax Allocations for Water Resources Construction Fund
HB 174 sought to set aside future sales and use taxes to fund the Water Resources Construction Fund, which would then be used to fund water projects, such as the Lake Powell pipeline.

House Bill 368: Abandonment or Forfeiture of Water Rights
HB 368 sought to change an ambiguous forfeiture exemption that occurs between the issuance of a proposed determination and a final decree--which can sometimes be decades. The bill also sought to (a) prevent the State Engineer from asserting forfeiture of a water right in a general adjudication for periods ending more than fifteen years before the proposed determination; and (b) prevent someone from bringing a forfeiture claim against a water right included in a proposed determination, except through a timely objection to the proposed determination.

House Bill 369: Adjudication of Water Rights
HB 369 sought to amend general adjudication statutes by (a) allowing the Division of Water Rights, and not the court clerk, to give notices in the general adjudication, and (b) allowing for electronic service of documents in the general adjudication.

House Bill 486: Water and Irrigation Amendments
HB 486 sought to make mostly minor changes, including (a) make rulemaking related to wastewater reuse discretionary for the State Engineer, (b) remove the requirement that a proof of beneficial use must include both a professional engineer stamp and notary stamp, and (c) remove requirement of verification under oath of diligence claims.

Senate Bill 78: Water Conservancy District Amendments
SB 78 sought to remove the ability of some water conservancy districts to assess property taxes.

Senate Bill 187: Change Application Procedure
SB 187 sought to make changes to the code in response to the Salt Lake City v. Big Ditch case and the Jensen v. Jones case. The bill sought to better define a person entitled to file a change application. The bill also sought to give the State Engineer consider nonuse in the context of a change application proceeding, and to deny or limit approval of the change application based on nonuse.

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