Several items worthy of comment this week:
First off, congrats to GOP Gov. Gary Herbert and whoever helped him write his State of the State address.
It was by far the best he’s given in his nine years at this.
I especially liked his tribute to – and lessons learned from – Matt Hillyard, the adult, Down syndrome, son of long-time state Sen. Lyle and Alice Hillyard.
Matt was a great man, whose passing several months ago still leaves a big hole in the Legislature, where he often came to visit all his friends while his dad did his work.
A very touching moment in what was overall a moving address by Herbert.
And get well soon to Herbert, who underwent kidney stone surgery this week. A very painful ailment — making his live speech delivery Wednesday night before the Legislature that much more impressive.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser told UtahPolicy.com Managing Editor Bryan Schott that he wouldn’t run for Senate president again later this year.
Niederhauser is running for re-election. And assuming he’s elected to his fourth term, he will step back down into the main body, making way for a new president who will take the lead in the 2019 Legislature.
This all means new top leadership next general session.
Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, has already said he’s retiring at the end of this year and won’t run for his Draper seat again.
This will not be the first time in recent years that we’ve had a new speaker and president at the same time.
But it will still leave a hole – and opportunities for others to move up into leadership.
Look for House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, and Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, to make runs for the top spots.
But there likely will be other Republicans in the House and Senate to take them on, especially in the Senate where the top spot has been held by one person for six years – leading to a backup for those who want a shot at the president’s desk.
There’s been a tradition in the House that when the speaker decides not to run again for speaker, he or she retires from the body – choosing not to be a former speaker down in the main majority side of the aisle.
But not so in the Senate.
When I first started covering the Legislature way back before there was electricity in the Capitol, it was common practice for the Senate president to serve just one term in that top post and then step back into the body.
At one time, if memory serves me correctly, there were two or three former presidents in the Senate – and two former House speakers who ran for the upper body after serving as the top guy in the House.
In any case, the Senate will get a new president come next year, while Niederhauser will still be there to give advice and counsel.