SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers from around Utah are eager to begin the state’s general legislative session, but they’ll have to wait almost a month and a half before getting to work.
In a ceremonial gathering on Monday, state senators and representatives announced the official opening of the legislature, circling March 9 on their calendars. The session is due to close on March 12.
Newly-elected House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, promised his chamber that the second week of March will be a productive one.
“There are so, so many issues we as a legislative body must seriously contemplate: education, air quality, healthcare, transportation, public lands. We owe it to our constituents to thoroughly examine and carefully vet the solutions to these distinctly Utah challenges,” he said, adding, “OK, great. Let’s get a few more high school choirs in here to sing ‘God Save America’ or whatever and call it a day.”
Utah is known for having one of the shortest legislative sessions in the nation—a fact which has garnered derision on occasion. But Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, maintains that four days is just enough time to do “the human people’s work.”
“The duration of four Earth rotations in local linear time measurement is sufficient for the dissemination of the issues affecting all Utah Earth creatures,” he said. He then made laughing noises.
Sen. Tood Weiler, R-Woods Cross, agreed with Niederhauser.
“It’d be a waste of taxpayer money to go any longer, frankly. Actually, three days is probably a long-enough window of time to pass most of the state’s laws for an entire year. Like, sure, we’ll show up that Monday [March 9], but we’ll probably spend most of it drinking Diet Coke and honoring Boy Scout troops. So realistically, we’ll show up Tuesday morning, take a look at the budget and ask ourselves, ‘What laws can we pass that don’t require a substantive discussion on the tax code?’
“It’s a wonderful process,” Weiler said.
While the real action won’t begin for another six weeks, lawmakers won’t be sitting on their hands in the meantime. The House and Senate plan to convene on weekdays to clap for visiting elementary school classes from around the state.