Gehrke: If I wrote Speaker Wilson’s opening-day speech, it would be more entertaining and go something like this

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune The Salt Lake Tribune staff portraits. Robert Gehrke.

On the opening day of every legislative session, the House speaker and Senate president address their respective bodies, setting the tone for the upcoming 45 days. I don’t get to write House Speaker Brad Wilson’s speech. But if I did, it would probably go something like this:

My fellow representatives:

It is my distinct privilege and honor to welcome you all to the 2019 General Session of the Utah Legislature.

We gather today at a unique time. Just a few short months ago, voters across the state exercised their voice in an unprecedented way, passing three different initiatives — legalizing medical marijuana, expanding health care for the poor, and changing the way we draw political boundaries.

To voters, you spoke loud and clearly, and we heard what you had to say. Unfortunately, what you had to say was stupid. I mean, really dumb. And we disagree with pretty much all of it.

Here’s the thing, though: We get the last word. So we already rewrote the cannabis nonsense, we will have bills before us to repeal the bleeding-heart Medicaid expansion, and it’s a safe bet we’ll get to that redistricting before it’s over.

Our Medicaid replacement will have a groundbreaking provision to cover just one procedure: Surgery to remove a voters’ tongue. That will keep this sort of thing from happening in the future.

The public may not like it, but really, what are they going to do about it? Vote?!? They tried that and look where it got ‘em.


For more than a month, we witnessed the astonishing dysfunction in Washington, D.C. I’m proud to say that, here in Utah, we do things differently. While we may strongly disagree from time to time, we pride ourselves on coming to consensus. It’s the Utah way.

So, for example, Rep. Cheryl Acton is proposing some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country, which would essentially take women back 50 years. But Rep. Merrill Nelson’s bill would erase more than 200 years of progress by legally defining women as egg factories awaiting a man’s seed.

Despite the gulf that divides these two good legislators, in the coming days, I have no doubt that we can find middle ground, and set women back only 125 years, because that’s how we do things in the Utah Legislature!


There are obviously many things we would not want to emulate about Washington, D.C. But that is not to say all of the ideas are bad.

President Donald Trump has highlighted the dangers of having untold sorts of riff-raff threatening to destroy our communities; deviants pouring freely across borders; interlopers taking our best jobs. And he has made the case that a wall is the best solution.

So I’m pleased to announce that this session Rep. Marc Roberts will be sponsoring legislation to build a magnificent 30-foot tall wall along the entire northern border of Utah County to protect the good people to the south from an invasion by the godless criminals to their north.


No longer will the people of Utah County have to live in fear of being infested by Salt Lake County Democrats. And, what’s more, Salt Lake County will pay for it!

[Standing Ovation]

This year, we will once again have a bill before us to provide enhanced penalties for hate crimes. Prosecutors and city and county leaders across the state have been urging us to act. This year, we have been given permission by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to do so. This is the news that the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Daniel Thatcher, has been hoping for. If this bill passes, he no longer will have to live in fear of being pushed around by Rep. Brian King.


I am confident that over the next 45 days, there is a good chance — maybe as high as 50 percent — that this body, through hard work, dogged determination and compromise, will do very good things that will improve the lives of Utahns. And then the media will give Spencer Cox all the credit for it when he runs for governor.

[Mic drop. Standing ovation]

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