Utah’s Political Clout is Growing

We oldsters know about the Summer of Love in San Francisco and the summer of civil rights marches in the South, both in the 1960s.

Well, we are coming up to the Summer of Power for Utah state leaders in several national political groups.

While other Utah state leaders have held these positions in the past, the vortex of power nationally has never been seen before in the Beehive State – giving Utah, which normally is not a national power broker – a chance to shine.

The list:

— GOP Gov. Gary Herbert will become chairman of the National Governor’s Association in the July NGA summer convention.

— Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, is the treasurer of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Niederhauser was also in charge of writing proposed rules for a group – the Assembly of the States — that supports calling a constitutional convention of the states – which, if successful, would be unprecedented in the history of the country.

He has since been promoted to the Assembly’s executive committee, which runs the organization. The 2015 Utah Legislature passed a resolution officially calling for such a convention, under certain conditions.

— And Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, will become president of the National Council of State Legislatures at summer NCSL meetings.

It’s a trifecta of national political power by state officials that Utah has never seen before.

Add to it that U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and that Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, is chairman of the House’s Natural Resource Committee and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is the president of the National League of Cities, and Utah is now swinging political power way above its weight class.

ALEC is a relatively new group of conservative legislators across the nation.

While criticized by more moderate and liberal groupsALEC is a blend of business/legislative leaders whose aim is finding fiscally-restraining, real-world solutions to states’ fiscal issues.

Through various working groups, ALEC members investigate and propose model legislation that has been introduced in some state legislatures.

It’s motto: Limited Government, Free Markets, Federalism.

Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, is chair of ALEC’s Federalism Committee where he’s been pushing various states’ rights issues, especially getting the federal government to give its lands to the states.

NCSL is the veteran of legislative groups, well respected for its education and study functions.

Considered the premiere legislative study/advocacy organization, it also has committees made up of legislative staffers from across the nation.

It has undergone a staff/structural change in recent years as Republicans took over state legislature after state legislature, and NCSL went from a Democratic-leaning bipartisan group to a GOP-leaning bipartisan organization, national observers say.

NGA is the national spokesperson for governors at large, its leaders traditionally meeting with the U.S. president and congressional leaders on state issues.

As the current vice-chairman, Herbert recently met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, for example.

The NGA chairmanship rotates between annual seats for a Republican and Democratic governor – as does NCSL top positions.

Other Utah governors have been chairs of NGA, including Govs. Cal Rampton, Scott Matheson and Mike Leavitt.

And other Utah legislators have been leaders in national legislative groups.

But this summer brings together Utah leaders as never before.

Herbert, Niederhauser, and Bramble all say their 2015-2016 national leadership roles will be a chance to spotlight Utah’s state management skills.

If you’ve listened at all to Herbert in recent years you know he’s constantly touting the fiscal and economic health of Utah and its state government.

But if it’s true, it ain't bragging, as the saying goes.

After his return from a recent White House meeting, Herbert said Obama asked him how Utah is doing such a good job economically and in job growth.

Herbert said he was glad to educate him.

And the three Utah state leaders – this summer entering the national stage – say they will be detailing Utah’s accomplishments as best they can.