Legislative resolutions, which in reality don’t do anything, sometimes are responsible for the most heated arguments on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
Take HRJ12. That bill would have added Utah to the list of states calling for an Article V Convention to enact term limits for members of Congress. That would only happen if 33 other states joined with Utah, which is a long shot.
The proposal passed the House in late February but was killed by a Senate committee in the final week of the 2017 session. Usually, that means the end of the story, but not here.
On the final day of the 2017 session, the group pushing for HJR12, Term Limits Convention – Utah, posted a picture on their FB page blaming Sen. Curt Bramble for killing the term limits resolution. That was odd because Bramble never even had a chance to vote on the bill. He’s not on the Senate Rules Committee, and he’s not a member of the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivision Committee which voted down the resolution.
Here’s where the plot thickens.
Richard Jaussi, a campaign consultant who works for Bramble, says he reached out to the group asking them to remove the post because it was inaccurate. He says representatives of the group acknowledged the post was not truthful but said they would only remove it if Bramble were to sponsor the term limits legislation during the 2018 session.
“I was shocked,” said Jaussi. “I said, ‘We don’t do legislation that way here, you don’t threaten a Senator by posting a false post and then demand legislation.'”
Collin Pace, with Term Limits Utah, acknowledged by email that they said if Bramble were to support the bill, they would take the Facebook post down.
Bramble says the term limits group also asked him to use a parliamentary maneuver to resurrect the bill toward the end of the 2017 session and bring it to a floor vote even though it had died in committee. That would be highly unorthodox and would lead to chaos on the Senate floor. Bramble refused, so here we are.
Pace also claims they had a deal with Senate leadership to revive the bill on the Senate floor if enough votes were there for passage, and Bramble’s reluctance was the reason the votes were not there.
Senate sources tell UtahPolicy.com no such deal existed to bring HJR12 to the floor for a vote before adjournment and, even if such a deal was in place, the 15 votes for passage simply weren’t there. Additionally, sources say the House did not put a high enough priority on the resolution to ask the Senate to consider it before they adjourned.
Furthermore, the term limits provision had to be stripped out of HJR3, which also called for a Constitutional Convention, before the Senate Government Operations Committee voted to pass the bill to the Senate floor where that bill also died. Clearly, Senators did not have much appetite for an Article V Convention this year.