Clarification: This letter comments on a piece of Utah State legislation permitting e-bikes on trails. The legislation would impact trails overseen by state and local entities, but not those of federal entities like the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. 

For better or worse, once again I have spent time monitoring our state legislators during the legislative session. And once again, it is clear that as a whole they are not at all interested in what local cities and counties want but what they want as legislators and, I would say, private citizens.

For example, this year a bill was passed that allows for electric-assist bicycles (let’s call them what they are: motorized bicycles) on all the trails that regular bicycles are allowed on. What does that mean? It means that because this one Senator wants to ride his motorized bike wherever he wants, so he has created a bill that allows motorized bikes that can go 20 MPH+ on single-track mountain bike trails. It also means that those trails will need to be modified in the future to accommodate the wider motorized bikes.

This year the legislators also passed a bill originally regarding food truck businesses that took away cities’ and counties’ ability to regulate the UTV businesses. What this means is that we, as a city and county inundated with noisy vehicles, are not allowed to implement ANY restrictions on those businesses. Not only does this affect the other businesses that rely on those tourists possibly wanting a quieter backcountry experience, but it also inhibits any attempts to moderate the impacts on our community as a whole.

There was an interesting article in the Salt Lake Tribune a few weeks ago on how the state legislators have been grabbing more and more power over the last two decades. While a group of us have started monitoring this truth for a while now, the strongest evidence of this was in 2018 when three referendums were passed BY THE PEOPLE (legalizing medical marijuana, expanding Medicare, and calling for a non-partisan redistricting in 2020).

The state legislators not only ignored all the bills voted for by the people, but they have since made it much more difficult to include referendums (or bills directly voted on by the people of the state) on the ballot. This is really what Utah has come to. In a super-majority Republican state, they have found it necessary to gerrymander the districts drastically once again.

At least Moab is all in one district now. They must have realized our population was too small to make a significant difference, so felt they no longer needed to divide us along 5th West.

Our legislators are taking us further and further down the rabbit hole. While Moab itself may not be able to vote these selfish people out of office, it is worth noting this trend. Our state is NOT that conservative or selfish. Just the legislators. Somehow we need to empower ourselves to vote in the primaries (where all the decisions are made. By the way, they are trying to take that away from the voters as well by trying to disallow petitions and only allowing people to run who are chosen “anointed” by the party).

Judy Powers

Moab