Herbert calls for second special session beginning Thursday

Utah Capitol 05

Wanting to get in on all this special legislative session stuff, Gov. Gary Herbert Tuesday afternoon called a special session for Thursday on his own.

Well, OK, nothing really big is going on here. No great fights between the executive and legislative branches.

Herbert is calling the special session, UtahPolicy.com is told, because under the recently-amended Utah Constitution the Legislature can call itself into a special session — which members did last week –but for only a few specific reasons. Mainly for an “emergency.”

And there are some items that both lawmakers and Herbert want taken up now that may not meet the express definition of an “emergency.”

So, Herbert issued his own special session call, in concert with the GOP legislative leaders, for several items.

Specifically, lawmakers will take up two bills that Herbert vetoed, but which now have compromises all sides can agree to.

As first reported in UtahPolicy.com Monday, HB332 by House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, a special needs child “scholarship” for private schools, has been agreed upon by Herbert, Schultz and others.

GOP lawmakers could just override Herbert’s veto. But that would be an up or down vote, you can’t amend a vetoed bill in an override session. HB332 needs a number of amendments, and so must be taken up in a special session (not an override session) if it is to be dealt with now.

Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson put HB332 on their special session call last week. But now there’s some question on whether this bill is an “emergency” under the Legislature’s constitutional authority. Herbert calling a special session and putting it on his call removes that question.

Also on Herbert’s call is a vetoed bill dealing with taxation on railroads. That, too, was on the Legislature’s call last week, but now is on Herbert’s — an agreement reached on the bill that will require amendments.

Finally, Herbert’s special session will deal with several other matters relating to the state’s approach to the coronavirus, and its financial impacts on the state.

All of Herbert’s new special session matters have agreement, and while the Herbert session will take some time just to work through the laborious process of online legislating, there shouldn’t be any serious problems, UtahPolicy.com is told.