SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature took steps Monday to change the rural requirements for the Utah Board of Regents to ensure the governor's latest appointees will be able to serve.
A 2010 law requires that at least two of the 15 regent members must live outside metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, Gov. Gary Herbert ran into problems with his recent nominee, Mark Stoddard of Nephi. It turns out that census definitions consider Nephi as part of the Provo/Orem metropolitan area. So is Springville, where another recent appointee, Springville Mayor Wilford Clyde, lives.
The board also has rural representation through John Zenger of Midway.
Last month, Herbert's deputy chief of staff Mike Mower, suggested that lawmakers change the law to allow the governor's appointees to continue to serve on the Board of Regents.
On Monday, during a special session, the Utah House unanimously passed a bill that would change Juab County into a rural area for the purpose of choosing regents. Rather than relying upon U.S. Census definitions, the bill relies on state code classifications of 4, 5, and 6-class counties, which range in populations between 31,000 down to less than 4,000. The bill considers these counties as rural.
"This will be a very simple change and a necessary change," said bill sponsor, Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said he felt the Legislature ought to scrap the whole law and revisit the issue of who serves on the Board of Regents.
Still, the Senate passed the bill 23-3. The bill will be forwarded to the governor for his signature. The Senate must also confirm Clyde's appointment.
"This is the technical change we supported and look forward to the Senate confirming Mr. Clyde during the October interim meetings," governor's spokeswoman Ally Isom said.