SALT LAKE CITY — The 2020 Utah Legislature opened for business on Monday with a major elephant (or donkey) in the room.
Lawmakers are tasked with repealing a tax reform package that initially passed just over a month ago in special session.
The move comes after a joint declaration by Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. President J. Stuart Adams, and House Speaker Brad Wilson.
Back in action
The 2020 session officially started at 10 a.m. and featured the typical pomp and circumstance that goes along with the first day.
Students from Farmington High School brought energy into the building with a drumline performance before giving the floor over to Speaker Wilson.
The Utah National Guard presented the colors after the House was called to order. The Box Elder High School Chamber Choir later took the front of the stage for a rendition of the national anthem. They performed two more songs before the lawmakers got back to business.
— John Wojcik (@JWojcikKSL) January 27, 2020
The elephant in the room
Early in his opening remarks, Speaker Wilson addressed the major issue.
“Legislation by referendum, while part of a political process, can be divisive and at many times be short of facts,” said Speaker Wilson. “It has proven ruinous for many states that have turned down that path.”
He said that each member of the legislature is elected by their neighbors and that lawmakers owe the voters fair representation.
“Our constituents are an essential part of that process,” explained Speaker Wilson. “They play an important role in shaping the policy decisions that we make and their voice is important.”
He says it’s an indictment of all members of the legislature that they find themselves in this situation.
“We must find new ways of both listening and explaining to our constituents the issues that we face,” he said.
According to Wilson, it will take a bipartisan effort to resolve the problem.
“We are not foes on a political battlefield,” says Speaker Wilson. “We are all Utahns committed to getting public policy right.”
Senate President Adams expects lawmakers will vote on the tax repeal bill on Tuesday. Once passed, it’ll replace the $160 million in revenue designated for an overall tax cut.
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