Good luck to Utah’s 104 citizen lawmakers, who begin their session next Monday. They will grapple with hundreds of issues in 45 days, all of which will be enormously important to someone.
But what will be the controversial “sleeper issues” of the 2012 legislative session?
Legislative leaders named a few at the recent Legislative Policy Summit, sponsored by Zions Bank, Prosperity 2020, Utah Policy Daily, and hosted by The Exoro Group.
In 2011, the big sleeper issue was HB477, the GRAMA bill, which at the end of the session got both conservatives and liberals so riled up that lawmakers later repealed the bill in a special session called by Gov. Herbert.
This year probably nothing quite so provocative will rear its ugly head -- at least legislators hope that is the case. Most legislators don’t like getting so consumed by a highly controversial issue that everything else comes to a screeching halt and they barely have enough time to get the important things done.
Still, there will be some controversial stuff debated during the 45 days. Among those issues named by Sens. Scott Jenkins and Ross Romero, and Reps. Brian King and Wayne Harper were the National Popular Vote issue; federal mandates, including health insurance mandates; immigration (repeal of HB116); education governance, especially higher education; and a number of labor issues. Federalism legislation will also generate a lot of debate, especially things related to federal lands.
In addition, watch for liquor legislation to be a hot topic. House Speaker Becky Lockhart has said that the House and Senate could be at loggerheads with different approaches. The Senate appears to want to maintain state control of liquor sales, but with changes in governance, while the House is considering moving toward a bit more privatization, with perhaps package agencies. Lockhart said the House isn’t interested in complete privatization, but is willing to look at alternatives.
All in all, a fun session ahead!