SALT LAKE CITY — Tucked into a bill on condominiums and homeowners associations is a provision cracking down on lush, green lawns.

Senate Bill 191, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, blocks HOAs from requiring green lawns in a drought. In an interview with FOX 13 News on Friday, Sen. Harper said even with Utah's ongoing drought and the situation facing the Great Salt Lake, he was hearing complaints that some HOAs were requiring them.

"We've had some people who said, 'Well, we want to have a lush, green lawn.' Even in the drought. If they have a yellow spot? They were fining their members," Sen. Harper said. "So this bill goes and clarifies in a drought? You cannot fine people. They still need to maintain their lawns. But you can’t penalize for conserving water."

In previous years, the legislature has explored banning HOAs from requiring turf at all. Some communities have started to restrict "nonfunctional turf" (basically grass that isn't used) in future developments.

So far this year, the legislature has increased incentives for getting rid of grass but have resisted an all-out ban on nonfunctional turf. Recent reporting by the Great Salt Lake Collaborative (of which FOX 13 News is a member) found that in contrast, the Nevada legislature passed a bill banning nonfunctional turf by 2026.

In the Senate Business & Labor Committee on Friday, Sen. Harper described the provision in his bill as "common sense." He said passing it sends a message that "we support conservation."

No one spoke against the bill in committee on Friday. SB191 earned a unanimous vote from the committee and now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Fox 13 Reporter
Ben Winslow is FOX 13's reporter on Capitol Hill covering a wide variety of topics including politics, polygamy, vice and courts. He has been in the news business in Utah for more than 20 years now, working in radio, newspaper, television and digital news. Winslow has received numerous honors for his reporting, including a national Edward R. Murrow award; the Religion Newswriters Association Local TV News Report of the Year; the Utah Broadcaster's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Readers of Salt Lake City Weekly and Q Salt Lake have named him their "Best TV news reporter" for many years now. He co-hosts "Utah Booze News: An Alcohol Policy Podcast," covering the state's often confusing and quirky liquor laws. Winslow is also known for his very active Twitter account keeping Utahns up-to-date on important news.

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