Lawmakers Adopt New Interim Meeting Schedule

Attention lobbyists, citizen activists and other sorry souls who attend Utah legislative interim meetings:

Starting in July the 75 House members and 29 senators will have new committee meeting times for their interim study days – which usually fall on the third Wednesday of each month.

This is all coming because, House members say, senators can’t get their act together – and are coming too late to the start of the afternoon study committees.

(Senators take great umbrage at these claims of in-promptitude, noting that they have the constitutional duty of confirming gubernatorial appointees each interim day, something the lowly House members don’t have to do.)

Lawmakers meet in joint study committees when out of session, and it takes a certain number of representatives AND senators to make a quorum and officially conduct committee business.

So, starting July 15 here is the new interim meeting schedule:

  • 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. is the morning committee meeting block.
  • 11:10 a.m. until 1 p.m. is lunch and caucus meetings. Usually the four entities lunch and meet separately – House Republicans and Democrats (open caucus meetings); Senate Republicans (closed caucus) and Senate Democrats (open caucus).
  • 1:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. afternoon committee meetings.
  • 4 p.m. to whenever Senate advice and consent sessions.

Currently, the Senate meets in confirmation session in the Senate Chamber around 2 p.m., and senators try to finish those hearings and votes by the 2:30 p.m. start of the afternoon committee meetings.

The House and Senate actually moved the afternoon committee start time from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. last interim because senators weren’t making the 2 p.m. start time – they were still on the Senate floor voting on gubernatorial confirmations.

But, House members say, senators now aren’t making the 2:30 p.m. start time.

And so by moving the Senate confirmations to the end of the day means senators can start their floor session any time after 3:45 p.m. and stay as late as they want.

House members and most of the legislative staff will be done with their interim meetings at 3:45 p.m. each interim day and senators can stay in the Capitol – well – until the cows come home.

“Doesn’t matter to us, we’ll be going home,” said House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, who led the House GOP caucus to approve the new meeting times Wednesday.

And hopefully, both senators and House members say, the public who attend the interim committee meetings won’t be kept waiting by tardy legislators in afternoon meetings —  no matter who fails to show up on time.