Rep. Doug Owens’ bill to restrict turf on new government facilities failed in the Senate this afternoon with a 14 to 10 vote. 

Floor sponsor Sen. Wayne Harper (R-Taylorsville) described the bill as the “next iteration” of last year’s legislation to limit water use on state-owned facilities. This version, HB272, included schools in the turf limitations, with exceptions for playing fields and recreation areas. It would have limited grass to less than 20% of the landscaped area and banned grass from parking strips and inside parking lots.

The bill would have applied to all public facilities statewide — something that gave Sen. Evan Vickers (R-Cedar City) pause.

“I applaud the effort to try to conserve and save, but I’m concerned about the one size fits all concept,” Vickers said. 

More senators echoed this with worries that the mandate would treat all cities the same when their needs were different. 

Sen. Scott Sandall (R-Tremonton) also expressed concern that the approach was too restrictive too quickly. Sen. Derrin Owens (R-Fountain Green) shared Sandall’s sentiment that the bill was a “stick rather than a carrot” approach, mentioning other legislation that encouraged conservation in different ways. 

“I think we should tap the brakes just a little and see that play out,” said Sen. Derrin Owens said. 

With 10 yays, 14 nays and 5 absent, the bill is returned to staff for filing. 

Great Salt Lake Collaborative Intern
Alexis Perno is a third year student at the University of Utah studying journalism and social work. Alexis aims to explore the intersection between social work and journalism in the future, namely through the world of macro social work, focusing on making an impact at the political and community level. Check out Alexis’ other journalistic endeavors at SLUG Mag, where their fierce love of music is allowed to shine. You can find them showing off their cat at every opportunity on Instagram @alexis.perno

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