With a little more than a week remaining in the 2015 session, Utah lawmakers are clearly behind the 8-ball in getting legislation passed.
As of Monday morning, 771 pieces of legislation had been introduced. That's the most at this point in a legislative session in the past decade. Legislators have passed 172 bills so far, which is also the most at this point in 10 years.
There's more legislation set to debut in the final week, and lawmakers are taking steps to slow down the legislative process toward the end of the session. It's becoming abundantly clear that a number of bills probably will die on the vine before lawmakers adjourn on March 12.
"It looks to me like we're on track," says Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton. "Many of us would like to see fewer bills."
Last year, lawmakers ended committee meetings on the Wednesday of the second-to-last week of the session. This year, committee hearings are scheduled all the way up until the Tuesday of the final week. That will purposely gum up the process by forcing legislators to spend more time debating bills in committee instead of dealing with an onslaught of bills during floor time over the final days of the session.
That's a sea-change from the past, meaning legislators who waited until the end to get their bills through the system may be out of luck when the clock strikes midnight next Thursday.
Adams says it's going to be a hard lesson for many on the hill.
"The reason a 45-day session is such a great thing is there are some bills that probably shouldn't pass. In my opinion, this is a good thing. Having fewer bills pass in the end is a desirable result."
As of Monday morning, the Senate had passed 99 House bills while the House had taken action on 73 pieces of legislation from the Senate.