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Legislature passes only three bills in first week

Rules change » Lawmakers focusing initially on appropriations, not other bills.

First Published Feb 03 2014 05:33 pm • Last Updated Feb 03 2014 09:53 pm

Through the first full week of the 45-day Utah Legislature, lawmakers formally introduced 326 bills and resolutions — but passed only three.

The limited action reflects a change in legislative procedures this year.

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Lawmakers prohibited hearings on regular bills through Monday, instead allowing only appropriations committees to meet and consider spending and "base budgets" for state agencies.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Valentine, R-Provo, said passing just three bills the first week "is one of the lowest ever," but not the lowest. "There were a couple of years where we only passed one bill" in the first week, he said.

Valentine said the 326 bills introduced as of Monday also ranks among the highest totals ever. But it is well below the pinnacle of 405.

"Everybody is really ready to get going with committees" and working on all those other bills, said Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe. "We’ll hit full stride here by mid-week."

"I predict we pass less this session," said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy. "Addressing the base budget like we never have before is our duty, and there have been a lot of positive outcomes," from looking at ways to save money to streamlining government, he added.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, co-chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee, said it may be good to change the culture, passing fewer bills and focusing more on appropriations.

"We’re not up here to pass 583 bills or whatever the number may be," he said, contending he and his colleagues "ought to be more concerned about quality than quantity."

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