'Here we go again'; Utah Legislature now in session

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SALT LAKE CITY — State lawmakers opened the 2012 Utah Legislature on Monday with prayers, patriotic songs and advice from legislative leaders.

"Be bold. Brave. Be able to say when this session is over that you did your very best," House Speaker Becky Lockhart told her colleagues in the 75-member body.

Proceedings in the Senate got under way with prayer, then music from the Osmond family, including one song written by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

"Here we go again," said Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville.

Lockhart reminded the House members that the 45-day session will be both fulfilling and frustrating, but they should remember that they are responsible to their constituents.

You in this room will make hard choices, just like others have before you.

–Becky Lockhart

"You in this room will make hard choices, just like others have before you," she said.

The speaker called on legislators to craft creative solutions to problems, protect residents without trampling on civil rights and meet people's needs without overburdening them with taxes.

Lawmakers, Lockhart said, need to be cautious with taxpayers' money and understand the proper role of government.

Freedom, God-given rights and the Constitution are often discussed in the Legislature, she said. "And for good reason. These are ideals worth fighting for and worth dying for."

How the Legislature works
House has 75 members

Senate has 29 members

Legislature meets for 45 days beginning at the end of January.

Committee action on bills and amendments is conducted in open session.
  • Bills are read 3 times each in House and Senate.
  • Citizens may attend House and Senate floor sessions.
A bill is introduced upon its first reading.
  • Then assigned to appropriate standing committee.
  • Citizens can listen, comment and testify on issues.
  • Bill is scheduled for hearing by standing committee chairman.
Second reading of the bill.
  • Takes place in the House.
Third reading of the bill
  • Debated by constitutional majority
    • 38 votes in the House and 15 votes in the Senate.
Governor signs or vetoes bill.

Information: ACLU of Utah

In the Senate, Waddoups sounded an optimistic tone in his opening remarks, noting recent economic trends that suggest Utah has weathered the nation's economic downturn in much better stead than many other states.

When meeting with legislative peers from other states, he said, they often ask, "What's going on in Utah? Can you give us some hints? Help us out here."

The state of Utah still has money in its rainy day fund and the state is "now paying ongoing money for ongoing projects." This is a result of good planning and strategic management, he said.

Waddoups noted that seven states recently declared they are optimistic about the future. "We are one of those."

The Utah Senate could take lessons from bees, considering the bee is Utah's symbol of industry and is displayed prominently on the state flag, seal and Senate seal.

“The beehive is a colony where a group works together for the benefit of all. Again, I think the parallel is there for us." To punctuate the point, Waddoups gave each of his Senate colleagues a bee lapel pin as a personal gift.

He went on to urge members of the Senate to be the best they can be.

"I believe in you. The public believes in you. We should believe in each other," Waddoups said.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered the opening prayer in the House. He petitioned for lawmakers to be productive, civil and not worry about who gets credit.

The House also swore in new members Reps. Craig Frank, Daniel McCay and Lowry Snow, all Republicans. They replaced legislators who resigned in the past few weeks.

Elder Steven E. Snow, also of the LDS Church's Presidency of the Seventy, offered the invocation in the Senate, urging civility in the Senate chamber and the halls of Utah's capitol.

David Osmond, a relative of Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, said his grandmother's advice seemed pertinent to the occasion: "It's amazing what we can accomplish when we don't care who gets the credit."

The Senate welcomed three new members, Sens. Osmond, Todd Weiler and Casey Anderson, who were appointed to fill vacancies resulting from resignations. Their terms will run through Dec. 31, 2012.

Story by Dennis Romboy and Marjorie Cortez


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Marjorie Cortez and Dennis Romboy


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