February 3, 2009

Bill to help fund road fight with Feds advances

Patty Henetz
The Salt Lake Tribune

A bill that would help Utah counties pay for a continuing fight with the federal government over road claims cleared a House committee Tuesday.

Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, is sponsoring HB278, which would allow county commissions to divert 30 percent of some road-maintenance funds to help cover court costs as they seek control over roads that pass through public lands. Federal judges have ruled that each of these so-called RS2477 claims must be litigated on its own merits.

The road-maintenance funds come from the statewide gas tax. In 2009, for example, Kane County got about $722,000 from that tax, according to Utah Department of Transportation records. Had Noel's bill already been in place, Kane County commissioners could have dedicated about $216,000 to federal court battles.

The bill now goes to the full House.