Lawmakers: The 2010 Legislative Session was a success

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Legislature adjourns at midnight Thursday. Both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate call the session a success.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins said, "I'm very pleased with the session. I feel like the people won. And I expect when I get home I'll have people calling and expressing appreciation and thanks that there haven't been more tax increases than we've had."

"I think what's important that, in a very nonpartisan, bipartisan manner, we've worked together to minimize the idea of winners and losers," said House Minority Leader David Litvack.


It was a session dominated by intense focus on the budget. But along the way, a list of bills got the public's attention too. Here's a final tally on where many of them ended up:

Lawmakers had a struggle balancing the budget. At $1 billion down in tax revenue from last year, there had to be cuts to everything, including education.

"I would say this was an awful budget year," said House Speaker David Clark.

But aside from that, there was a slew of other issues lawmakers addressed.

For one, a series of ethics bills passed. They call for campaign finance reform, disclosure of conflict of interest, and establish an ethics commission.

A significant change to the state's retirement system is also coming. Lawmakers voted to change the pension system for employees hired after July of next year.

Many legislators had to hold their nose to pass a tobacco tax. It raises $44 million. Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert said he wouldn't veto the $1-per-pack increase.

States rights bills didn't take a lot of time, but did set a tone that made many Democrats weary. They include exempting Utah-made firearms from federal laws.

A resolution to reject global warming in energy policy passed; so did a resolution urging the governor to get out of the Western Climate Initiative.

Yet another would allow Utah to opt out of federal health care reform. Another claims eminent domain over some federal land in Utah; and there are others.

Relief for financially-strapped school districts: a bill passed allowing them to use capitol funds in the classroom. Another measure to equalize and adjust sales and property taxes failed.

Sen. Chris Buttars' idea to make the 12th grade optional never even became a bill.

A bill to take on sex education failed. It was promoted as a way to fight STDs.

At the last minute, a bill that would have banned teens under age 18 from using a cell phone while driving failed.

Employers will have to verify citizenship for new employees.

A miscarriage could be declared "wrongful death" under a bill that passed this year.

Insurance companies will cover prosthetic limbs differently under a bill that passed.

Lawmakers rejected their own pay increase to reflect the hard times this year.

A bill restricting stream access only to fishermen in boats passed.

A controversial notion to eliminate affirmative action failed this year.

And lawmakers put "on hold" the issue of non-discrimination ordinances for gays and lesbians this year. It could come up next year.

The last major item is a restructuring of funding for charter schools. A measure to fund Charter schools from school districts instead of the state will be studied over the summer.


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Richard Piatt


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