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Scott G Winterton, KSL, File

Bill to officially remove Utah Transit Authority name change nears final approval

By Katie McKellar, KSL | Posted - Mar. 7, 2019 at 9:26 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill making a slew of tweaks to the sweeping transportation bill the Utah Legislature approved last year is nearing final approval.

The Utah House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve a new version of SB72, a bill that includes a variety of changes to last year's bill, including the official removal of last year's failed proposal to rename Utah Transit Authority to the Transit District of Utah.

The bill would also make changes to the nomination process to UTA's new three-member commission. The proposed changes come after Utah County, Tooele County and Gov. Gary Herbert clashed over an appointee to the new board last year.

Eventually the dispute was resolved, but not until after Utah County and Tooele County disagreed over the names Utah County sent forward, which the governor rejected.

A new version of SB72 proposed and passed in the House would change the nomination process so each county puts forward nominations rather than some smaller counties consulting with larger counties to arrive at a shared nomination. The bill also puts a time limit of 60 days on the governor to choose from those nominations an appointee.

The bill would also make changes for people who own electric or hybrid vehicles, who currently don't pay the gasoline tax that fund Utah highways.

Last year, the Utah Legislature enacted higher registration fees on those cars to help offset the lost gasoline tax revenue, but SB72 changes that, giving owners of electric or hybrid cars an option to participate in a "road user charge" pilot program starting Jan. 1 next year.

Drivers who participate in the program would report their mileage driven — and the mileage will determine how much of a tax the driver will pay. The maximum charge is the same as the higher registration fees passed last year.

The bill now goes to the Senate for final consideration.

Katie McKellar

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