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Mormon church’s lobbyist is Utah Legislature’s choice to lead its research office

He would direct the office that provides legal and policy review for proposed laws.

Utah legislative leaders are proposing to hire the top lobbyist for the LDS Church to head their Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel (OLRGC), which provides legal and policy review for proposed legislation.

They are proposing to hire John Cannon to replace Michael Christensen, who is retiring after leading OLRGC since 2000.

Cannon has been a lobbyist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2012 — with the title of director of community and government affairs — and his hiring may raise eyebrows for a Legislature with a membership that is 90 percent Mormon.

Cannon previously worked in the Legislature for more than two decades — first as an analyst, then as managing policy analyst for OLRGC.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, and House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, led a search committee that is recommending Cannon.

"John is an innovator and a diplomat, with expert knowledge of legislative processes here in Utah and around the nation," Niederhauser said. "He has the experience and leadership ability to get the work done. ... If you were to craft an ideal skill set for this position, John Cannon has it."

King said Cannon "brings to the job excellent experience from prior service in that office, as well as government relations work in the private sector. His integrity and commitment to quality will allow the office to move forward on the foundation built by Mike Christensen."

Cannon holds a bachelor of arts degree and a master's in public administration from Brigham Young University.

The six-member Legislative Research Subcommittee that is recommending him is equally balanced between Republicans and Democrats and both legislative chambers. Its recommendation goes to the Legislative Management Committee. If approved, it would be up for ratification by the full Legislature.

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