Saturday, February 2, 2013

General Session 2013: Week 1 - Training Wheels and Growing Pains

We concluded week one at the Legislature this week.  I believe that the House was experiencing individual and collective exhaustion by Friday afternoon.  Here are some highlights from the week.

Speaker Prerogative

Speaker Lockhart being sworn in by Former Speaker Nolan Karras

Speaker Lockhart gave a very direct and poignant speech on opening day.  She blasted the Feds for not providing a solid foundation for us to have clear direction forward for our State budget.  She also asked us to exercise restraint when running our bills and asked us to reconsider bills we were already running if it would add to the number of new laws on the books.  You can WATCH HER SPEECH HERE.

Already this week, several "repeal" bills have been run to reduce the amount of bureaucracy and laws on the books.  They have all passed nearly unanimously.

Freshman Jitters

We have a large and bright group of freshman legislators this year.  With such a large group being new, the same anxiety experienced by my much smaller freshman class in 2011 has percolated to the surface this time and shown itself in a more obvious way.  We experienced some technical difficulties the first day and one of our first votes was on adjusting Legislator pay.  The combination proved unsettling for some of the new Representatives and was voiced during meetings.  The lack of institutional memory (we have been working on the compensation change with their predecessors for 9 months) proves to be a disadvantage to new Legislators.

With such a new large group of Legislators, it also means that the senior members spend more of their time coaching and teaching.  I believe that is part of the exhaustion felt by our body collectively as we have spent a lot of our time showing the new guys and gals the ropes.  It is essential that they know some rudimentary procedure and protocol so the House does not fall into dysfunction.  Thus, we have worked to get them up to speed.

State of the State

My wife Kim and I on the House Floor at the State of the State

Governor Herbert arrived to speak to our body on Wednesday evening.  My wife Kim was able to join me and the Governor gave a very optimistic and encouraging report.  Utah is ahead in the country for job creation and economic opportunity.  You can read the Governor's speech HERE.
Taking the Helm

This year I was advanced to the position of Vice Chair for the Political Subdivisions Committee.  I conducted my first two meetings this week.  If you have an extra hour and a half and want to delve into the minutia of election law and the remaking of provisions for adequate protests in special and local district assessments  I strongly encourage you to listen to our meeting HERE (Note: Recording started after our meeting was called to order).

I also have been assigned to the Business and Labor Committee.  I am very impressed with the sharp minds and experience of the Representatives that sit on the committee with me.  

Bill Update

HB -70 Railroad Museum Authority Amendments - This bill was presented at committee and was approved unanimously.  You can listen to the committee presentation HERE.

HB - 279 - Refugee Service Funds Amendments - This bill was presented at committee and was approved unanimously.

Third House

Finally, I also serve as the Chair of the Third House.  My job entails announcing our social calendar.  But, just reading an itinerary is really boring. So, I try to liven it up a bit while I have the opportunity.

You can watch video of my presentations of the House Floor HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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