November 4, 2020 •

Utah Voters Approve Session Start Date Amendment

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

On November 3, voters in Utah approved a constitutional amendment to modify the commencement date of the annual Utah legislative session. Senate Joint Resolution 3, or Amendment F, amends the commencement of the legislature from the fourth Monday in January […]

On November 3, voters in Utah approved a constitutional amendment to modify the commencement date of the annual Utah legislative session.

Senate Joint Resolution 3, or Amendment F, amends the commencement of the legislature from the fourth Monday in January to a day in January designated by state statute.

Previously, if the state legislature wished to change the session start date, lawmakers would need to amend the state constitution by passing a constitutional amendment by a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

The amendment would then require statewide voter approval.

Under Amendment F, the legislature will be able to change the session start date in state statute, which requires a simple majority vote in the legislature and does not require voter approval.

The amendment also excludes state holidays that are not also federal holidays from counting toward the 45-day limit of annual general sessions.

Amendment F will take effect January 1, 2021.

As of 7:00 a.m. November 4, with more than 76% of the precincts reporting, the amendment passed 66.8% to 33%.

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November 4, 2020 •

Utah Voters Elect Spencer Cox in Gubernatorial Race

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

Incumbent Lt. Gov. and Republican Spencer Cox defeated candidate Chris Peterson 64% to 30% in Utah’s gubernatorial race. Cox, the top finisher among state Republican convention delegates, beat three GOP candidates in the June 30 party primary. Those are former […]

Incumbent Lt. Gov. and Republican Spencer Cox defeated candidate Chris Peterson 64% to 30% in Utah’s gubernatorial race.

Cox, the top finisher among state Republican convention delegates, beat three GOP candidates in the June 30 party primary.

Those are former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, and former Utah Chairman Thomas Wright.

Peterson, a University of Utah law professor who worked on consumer issues in the Obama administration, won the Democratic nomination outright at his party’s state convention and did not face a primary in his first run for public office.

Cox will succeed Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.

Herbert chose not to run for reelection after more than a decade in office and endorsed Cox in the hotly contested GOP gubernatorial primary.

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August 18, 2020 •

Utah Legislature Calls Special Session August 20 to Address COVID-19 Concerns

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

The Utah Legislature announced a special session beginning August 20 to consider COVID-19 relief, reopening schools, and to determine how to hold the November 3 general election. The August 20 special session marks the sixth special session of the year. […]

The Utah Legislature announced a special session beginning August 20 to consider COVID-19 relief, reopening schools, and to determine how to hold the November 3 general election.

The August 20 special session marks the sixth special session of the year. The election changes aim to modify a practice known as ballot harvesting or allowing a third party to collect and deliver multiple by-mail ballots.

Among the non-COVID issues to be discussed is a request for $20 million to bail out developers of a port in Oakland, California Utah lawmakers believe would ship Utah coal abroad.

The Legislature will hold the special session electronically, encouraging the public to participate by submitting inquires and feedback directly to their legislators or by remotely attending committee meetings.

The Legislature has exercised its ability to call itself into session, a method approved by voters in 2018. Before then, only governors could call a special session.

The special session does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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June 12, 2020 •

Utah Special Session Targeted for June 18

Gov Gary Herbert

Gov. Gary Herbert - by Medill DC

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is targeting a special session from June 18 to June 19 to adjust next fiscal year’s budget in response to COVID-19. A plan is underway to allow lawmakers the option of attending virtually. The day prior […]

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is targeting a special session from June 18 to June 19 to adjust next fiscal year’s budget in response to COVID-19.

A plan is underway to allow lawmakers the option of attending virtually.

The day prior to the special session, legislators will get new revenue estimates during a meeting of the Executive Appropriations Committee.

It is not known how the budget numbers will look, but they will be drastically different from the more than $900 million in excess revenue lawmakers used to set this year’s fiscal budget.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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April 16, 2020 •

Utah Convenes Online for Emergency Special Session

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

Due to COVID-19, Utah lawmakers are meeting online for the first time on April 16 for an emergency special session. Only Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson are expected to be in the legislative chambers in the […]

Due to COVID-19, Utah lawmakers are meeting online for the first time on April 16 for an emergency special session.

Only Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson are expected to be in the legislative chambers in the closed state Capitol.

Work on more than 20 items on the agenda will be tackled in one chamber at a time, beginning in the House.

Bills will not receive committee hearings, which are optional in a special session.

The session will continue for a period of up to 10 days.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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April 1, 2020 •

Utah Governor Plans to Call Special Legislative Session to Address COVID-19 Concerns

Gov Gary Herbert

Gov. Gary Herbert - by Medill DC

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced March 31 he will call a special legislative session within two to three weeks to deal with growing COVID-19 concerns. Gov. Herbert said several items will be at issue during the special session. Items include […]

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced March 31 he will call a special legislative session within two to three weeks to deal with growing COVID-19 concerns.

Gov. Herbert said several items will be at issue during the special session.

Items include extending the state’s personal income tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15, and potentially opening the state’s General and Education funds.

It is unclear whether Gov. Herbert will ask lawmakers to take steps dealing with the spring and summer election deadlines.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

When the special session is called, all restrictions on contributions from individuals, lobbyists, principals, and political committees will apply.

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March 16, 2020 •

Utah Democrats, GOP Cancel In-person State Conventions

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

The Utah Republican and Utah Democratic parties intend to cancel their in-person state conventions. Previously they were scheduled for April 25, and were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decisions come after Gov. Gary Herbert announced that mass gatherings […]

The Utah Republican and Utah Democratic parties intend to cancel their in-person state conventions.

Previously they were scheduled for April 25, and were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decisions come after Gov. Gary Herbert announced that mass gatherings of groups in the state will be limited to 100 people.

Both party leaders say they are restructuring their April 25 state conventions, but had little information about how the meetings will look.

Vetting and candidate voting traditionally associated with the state convention will still occur, but primarily in an online format.

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March 13, 2020 •

Utah Legislature Adjourns, Responds to COVID-19

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

In the final hours of the legislative session ending just before midnight on March 12, lawmakers pushed through a series of measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislature extended the state of emergency for Utah to June 30, […]

In the final hours of the legislative session ending just before midnight on March 12, lawmakers pushed through a series of measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislature extended the state of emergency for Utah to June 30, and instituted a “no handshake” rule at the Capitol.

To help seniors who are highly susceptible to the novel coronavirus, $24 million was appropriated.

An additional $16 million was appropriated to the Utah Department of Health.

Finally, $4 million was passed for Utah’s Division of Emergency Management dealing with COVID-19.

Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert passed a resolution that allows lawmakers to meet remotely, using electronic communication methods.

House Bill 186, relating to lobbyist registration as a foreign agent, was introduced but not passed.

The bill would have required a foreign agent to register with the lieutenant governor prior to engaging in any lobbying activity.

In total, lawmakers passed 510 bills ranging from affordable housing and education to women’s rights and technology.

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February 13, 2020 •

Utah Congressional Vacancy Bill Progresses Over Objections

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

A compromise over filling congressional vacancies progressed on February 11, earning passage through the House on a party-line vote. House Bill 17 seeks to resolve years of dispute that began in 2017 with the resignation of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. […]

A compromise over filling congressional vacancies progressed on February 11, earning passage through the House on a party-line vote.

House Bill 17 seeks to resolve years of dispute that began in 2017 with the resignation of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. The state law was largely silent on the process for replacing members of Congress.

The legislative and executive branches have continued to disagree on the subject. Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed legislation last year that would have set a process for picking congressional replacements.

The current bill calls for the governor to issue a proclamation to schedule a primary and general election to fill a House vacancy.

Those elections generally would be held on the next municipal general election, a presidential primary or regular primary, or general election.

House Bill 17 is now in the Senate for consideration.

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January 20, 2020 •

Utah Agriculture Commissioner Resigns to Run for Congress

Kerry Gibson - State of Utah

Utah Agriculture and Food Commissioner Kerry Gibson has resigned from Gov. Gary Herbert’s cabinet to run for Utah’s 1st Congressional District. Kelly Pehrson was named the interim manager of the department. Heading into the November 3 election is incumbent Rob […]

Utah Agriculture and Food Commissioner Kerry Gibson has resigned from Gov. Gary Herbert’s cabinet to run for Utah’s 1st Congressional District.

Kelly Pehrson was named the interim manager of the department.

Heading into the November 3 election is incumbent Rob Bishop, who has served since 2003.

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December 19, 2019 •

Utah Lawmakers Adjourn Special Session, Pass Tax, Health Bills

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

The Utah Legislature approved a sweeping tax-change bill during the one-day special session on December 12. The bill cuts state income taxes and hikes the sales tax on food, gas, and a list of other services. The tax bill did […]

The Utah Legislature approved a sweeping tax-change bill during the one-day special session on December 12.

The bill cuts state income taxes and hikes the sales tax on food, gas, and a list of other services.

The tax bill did not reach a two-thirds majority in either the House or Senate, subjecting it to challenge by a citizen referendum on December 16.

In order to qualify, the referendum must collect more than 115,869 validated signatures across the state by January 21.

Lawmakers also passed a bill to fund behavioral health services, moving $3.9 million from unused appropriations to provide health treatment.

The behavioral health bill passed with no opposition.

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December 12, 2019 •

Utah Governor Calls Special Session

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

Gov. Gary Herbert called a special session of the Utah Legislature for December 12 to consider a massive tax reform plan. The special session comes a day after a divided legislative panel voted to advance a significant tax cut for […]

Gov. Gary Herbert called a special session of the Utah Legislature for December 12 to consider a massive tax reform plan.

The special session comes a day after a divided legislative panel voted to advance a significant tax cut for Utah residents.

In addition to the tax reform, the special session will include discussion of funding for behavioral health programs.

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September 24, 2019 •

Utah Special Session Ends

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a series of bills bringing an end to the special legislative session. The governor signed two major bills making changes to the laws governing medical cannabis and beer. Lawmakers approved a change to allow grocery […]

Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a series of bills bringing an end to the special legislative session.

The governor signed two major bills making changes to the laws governing medical cannabis and beer.

Lawmakers approved a change to allow grocery and convenience stores a one-week grace period to purchase and store 4% beer before it can be sold to customers as the cap is lifted from 3.2% beer on Nov. 1.

Additionally, legislators passed changes to the state’s medical cannabis bill.

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September 19, 2019 •

State Representative Resigning from Utah House

Utah Rep. John Knotwell

Rep. John Knotwell will resign from the Utah House of Representatives, effective September 30. The District 52 representative will resign to focus on his employment that requires significant traveling and a busy schedule. The Salt Lake County Republican Party will […]

Rep. John Knotwell will resign from the Utah House of Representatives, effective September 30.

The District 52 representative will resign to focus on his employment that requires significant traveling and a busy schedule.

The Salt Lake County Republican Party will be responsible for filling the vacancy.

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