Opponents of HB70 Mislead Public on Costs

Representative Stephen Sandstrom is challenging the accuracy and motivations behind the fiscal note that is attached to the Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act. Rep. Sandstrom questions (1) how the cost was calculated, (2) why the League of Cities and Towns failed to take into consideration savings that would be incurred and (3) why the League of Cities and Towns has consistently failed to attach fiscal notes to other bills that impacted its members including SB81 and HB10 passed in 2008 and HB59 in 2011, or any other law enforcement bill. “If $11.3 Million dollars is the true cost, then the problem is much larger than even I thought it was,” said Rep. Sandstrom. “This practice of attaching large fiscal notes for bills they do not like and no fiscal notes to bills they agree with, must end.” Rep. Sandstrom points out that the fiscal note does not call for additional appropriations but only examines hypothetical additional costs incurred by law enforcement agencies. According to Rep. Sandstrom, law enforcement officers daily enforce literally hundreds of laws without allocating costs for each separate enforcement action. Rep. Sandstrom also expressed concern that the League has failed to publically release a city-by-city breakdown of estimated costs or other supporting data to back up its estimates. In addition, the League of Cities and Towns failed to consider cost savings that will flow from enactment of this act in spite of the fact that it had access to a University of Virginia study that shows positive benefits flowing from a similar law passed by Prince William County Virginia – reduction in the number of illegal immigrants, reduction in some crime categories, and an amelioration of neighborhood problems. The University of Virginia study concluded: “One implication of Prince William’s experience is inescapable: it is indeed possible for local government to have an impact on its experience with illegal immigration…” Rep. Sandstrom also expressed concern that some cities apparently see this as restricting their ability to raise revenue by taking time away from officers that would otherwise be used for the issuance of traffic tickets and parking violations. Rep. Sandstrom believes that “the fiscal note itself and the reporting on it has been misleading. Law enforcement is continually given additional authority to act and does so during the course of its regular duties. Some within the League of Cities and Towns who support illegal immigration are using the fiscal note as a veiled attempt to defeat this bill.” Ronald Mortensen of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration said: “It is truly disturbing when elected officials who have sworn an oath to uphold the law put the issuance of traffic tickets and other revenue generating activities ahead of protecting the public from the negative impacts of illegal immigration.”

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