Lawmakers off to slow start in 2020 Utah Legislature

Utah Capitol 35

Well, you don’t see this very often.

When the 75-member Utah House and the 29-member Senate met for chamber debate and voting Wednesday morning, they had no bills before them.

In short, nothing to do for the hour of floor time. The Senate adjourned after just 30 minutes, which included a presentation from the principal of Juan Diego High School about school achievement. No legislation was considered during that time.

House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, told his chamber that staff is seeing a unique situation, there are “large numbers” of bills that have been drafted, but the sponsors have not approved the bills to be formally filed — and numbered.

He politely told the representatives to get with it — review your completed bills and approve them so they can be put into the hopper.

The House Rules Committee sent out a number of bills to committees for hearings. But until those bills are recommended back to the whole House, there are no bills to be considered.

And there are no Senate bills — passed by that body — and ready for House action, either. Same in the Senate, no House bills waiting for action.

Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said the unusually slow start is likely due to the energy that went into the failed tax reform effort.

“Staff worked through the interim on tax reform trying to get that bill ready,” said Adams. “I don’t know if the committees have enough bills to work on, but I would hope that changes soon.”

Not to worry, in the House, Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, uncircled his constitutional amendment, HJR3, for debate, which if approved would go before voters for approval. The bill would change a “safeguard” in the Constitution that stops cities and towns from ever selling their water rights. No longer needed, says Stratton, as times have changed since statehood in 1896, and has been vetted over several years by a special water task force.

A handful of afternoon committee meetings were canceled during the first three days of the legislative session mostly due to a lack of legislation to consider.