Utah Lawmakers Defend Bill to Bypass Voters

Published January 25, 2006 1:28 am
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Utah's Republican senators want to lead the charge nationwide to recapture some of the power state legislatures once held before a constitutional amendment allowed people to vote for their U.S. senators directly.

Utah Senate President John Valentine said SB156, which would allow legislators to pick Senate candidates, as long as the political parties agreed, has nothing to do with sitting Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett.

It's an effort to bolster the power of state leaders, who are more equipped to crack down on unfunded programs foisted upon the states by the U.S. Congress, he said.

"We know more than voters do," Valentine said. "They don't get the chance to hear all that we do." The legislation would also allow lawmakers to "direct" senators by making requests

Utah Democratic Party Executive Director Todd Taylor called the legislation "shameful."

"It doesn't respect the Constitution. It doesn't respect the voters and it doesn't respect the history that got us here," he said.

A Senate committee is expected to debate the bill, sponsored by Draper Republican Sen. Howard Stephenson, this morning. SB156 has 19 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republican except for West Valley City Democrat Sen. Ed Mayne.

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