Mayor Ramsey recaps legislative session, ‘a lot of really good outcomes’Apr 03, 2022 07:05PM ● By Collin Leonard
By Collin Leonard | [email protected]
The 2022 Utah state legislative session wrapped up at the beginning of March, and Mayor Dawn Ramsey is excited to share what the state’s elected officials have been working on. As the President of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, Ramsey had the opportunity to represent South Jordan and 248 other cities and towns in talks with policy makers and elected officials. Her goal: “to be a strong and well informed voice for local government in these policy discussions.”
In those sessions, there was a great deal of work on issues surrounding transportation. As new legislation is passed down from state officials, some cities struggle to find adequate resources for the technological improvements required. The mayor championed an initiative requesting additional funding for technological assistance so that cities can implement these requirements. Ramsey said “we are lucky to have many smart and talented people working for our city,” and this initiative will help many cities with resources and training.
Water conservation throughout the state was another important topic this session. Around 100 lawmakers were flown above the Great Salt Lake in Black Hawk helicopters so they could see the seriousness of the problem first-hand. Some described the shrinking lake as nothing short of an emergency. In the session, $40 million was set aside from the general fund for conservation of the lake. Bills were also passed establishing a Utah Lake Authority, forbidding cities and HOAs from prohibiting water wise landscaping, and requiring water use reporting in various applications.
The state will also require secondary water to be monitored. Ramsey was involved in securing a $200 million investment from the state. “[The requirements] come at a huge cost to the local governments, so I worked to make sure the state would cover about 70% of the mandate,” Ramsey said. Ironically, the city of South Jordan has been proactively adding meters to secondary water connections and the project was completed just as the bill passed, so it won’t be receiving any funding.
Ramsey is well known for her widespread involvement in the community, and is currently listed as being part of 32 boards and committees. Ramsey said “it’s important South Jordan has a seat at the table” when discussing important issues, and believes speaking from a knowledgeable place is the best way to gain the respect of legislators.
In her second term, the mayor feels she is reaping the benefits of strong relationships with policy makers who want to listen. Ramsey was heavily involved in HB462, to put programs in place to collect data on housing. She feels “we can’t make the best decisions on housing unless we have good data.” Additionally, the mayor worked on HB440, involving services for those affected by homelessness, and HB151, a retail tax incentive bill, as a member of the governor's State Unified Economic Opportunities Commission.
Some of the most contentious debates of the session revolved around education. As president of the Jordan Education Foundation, Ramsey was keeping a close eye on the proceedings, but was not personally involved in the legislation. A bill was passed approving the removal of sensitive materials from public schools; critics of the bill expressed concern about censorship. A proposal to introduce more requirements for curriculum transparency was another topic of debate, but was not passed.
“Overall, there were a lot of really good outcomes for the city,” Ramsey said, as South Jordan officials begin adjusting to new changes and tackling new challenges.