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Imagine all the legislators living life in peace

File photo of Rep. Brad Wilson. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s newest Speaker of the House, Brad Wilson, R-Davis Co., wants a kinder, gentler legislature.  So he’s shaking things up.

Wilson tells UtahPolicy.com over a third of all the lawmakers have less than two years experience.  He’s placed some of the new members next to veteran members on the floor in order to mentor them.  That means many Democrats are sitting where Republicans used to sit and vice-versa.

The leadership for both parties remains in their traditional seats – the back row on each side.

The speaker also did something not seen in most people’s lifetime.  He appointed a minority Democrat as vice-chair of a committee.   Rep. Susan Duckworth, D-Magna, is now the joint vice-chair of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which will oversee the transition of the state’s technical colleges closer to the model of the higher education system.

While this appears to be a position of power for the Democrats, Republicans still hold a 59-16 majority in the House and a 21-6 majority in the Senate.  Both are two-thirds majorities, making it impossible to stop debate or hinder work.

Wilson also assigned several Republican freshman and sophomores into vice-chairmanships.