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Pass change of government bill

County commissioners robbed the public last year of a chance to change an inefficient and unfair form of government in Salt Lake County. Now state lawmakers can help give them another chance.

A bill enabling that to occur ought to be passed by the Legislature so that voters can have a choice this November.The bill, SB133, sponsored by Sen. Mont Evans, R-Riverton, lays the foundation for a proposal that a county advisory committee is studying. According to the committee chairman, Bruce Jones, the county government change proposal should be ready by the end of April. The committee will then make a recommendation to the County Commission. The issue can then be placed on the ballot in November.

The committee would have to work hard to find a better proposal than the one voters almost had a chance to select last year. That would have separated county leadership into a legislative and executive branch and provided county residents with direct representation for the first time.

After commissioners yanked that measure off the ballot, they hand-picked members of the current committee. Certainly, a more objective process would have been preferable, but at least the issue didn't die.

Commissioners are not obligated to approve the committee's recommendation, but they have said that as long as what the committee recommends is legal, they'll support it. And then voters need to have the opportunity to decide what form of government they want.

We will reserve judgment until the committee's recommendations are made public, but we remain committed to a form of government that separates legislative and executive functions and provides representation.

One of the provisions of SB133 is to limit to three months the time that a county commission can change its mind about pulling an initiative off the ballot. That is a direct response to the commission's decision last year to place a change on the ballot and then remove it three weeks later.

That move flew in the face of 70 percent of county residents, the number that told opinion pollsters they wanted change. Maybe this year, those residents will get a chance, at long last, to do what is best for county government.