2024 Utah Legislature: Data reveals who passed the most bills, who voted ‘no’ most, and a surprise: bipartisanship

The average floor time spent debating measures: 11 minutes.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Lawmakers work late on the last night of the Legislature on Friday, March 1, 2024. A BYU professor has crunched a slew of numbers about this year's session.

At the end of every legislative session, Adam Brown, a political science professor at Brigham Young University, compiles a slew of statistics that tell part of the story of how our laws are made.

Here are some key takeaways from Brown’s analysis of the 2024 session:

So many bills

Lawmakers introduced a record number of bills this session — 934 pieces of legislation were numbered — and also passed a record number, 591. That pass percentage of 63% is about average for the past decade.

Churn and burn

The House logged 84 hours on the floor debating those bills. That includes time discussing bills that ultimately failed. The Senate spent 77 hours of floor time passing those bills. That means, according to Brown, the median amount of time spent debating bills was a total of 11 minutes in both chambers. That is actually an increase from last year, when the median bill racked up barely 9 minutes, but still lags compared to recent years.

A few bills chewed up considerably more time. HB261, which eliminated diversity, equity and inclusion programs in colleges and universities and public schools, amassed 138 minutes of floor debate.

Bipartisanship prevails ... usually

There certainly are bills that split the Legislature along partisan lines, but those are rare. Most get broad bipartisan support. Roughly 1 in 8 votes in the House and 1 in 10 in the Senate are decided along party lines.

Because they hold a supermajority in both chambers, Republicans passed nearly 70% of the bills they introduced. Democrats did slightly better than last year, succeeding on nearly 40% of the bills they introduced, but that figure is still the second-lowest passage rate since 2010. Democratic senators fared considerably better than their House counterparts in getting their measures adopted.

Prolific policymakers

Some in Utah’s Capitol — those who argue the state has enough laws on the books already — see it as a dubious distinction to pass the most bills. This year, it was Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, who got the most through with 25. He was followed by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, with 21 and Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, with 19. Harper’s mark this year is down slightly from the 28 he got passed last session. Six lawmakers — two Democrats and four Republicans — did not get any sponsored legislation passed this session.

Not many naysayers

There was a time when Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, had the nickname, Dan Mc-“Nay” because he voted no on so many bills. This year, he’s not near the top of the list. That distinction goes to Rep. Brett Garner, D-West Valley City, who voted no 14% of the time. He voted no just three more times than gubernatorial hopeful Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding. (Sen. Mc-”Nay” voted no less than 3% of the time.)