(KCPW News) Utah Senate Democrats told reporters this morning that it's time to move past the controversy surrounding Sen. Chris Buttars, whose statements about gay people have infuriated gay-rights advocates across the country. Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones said in order to do that, Senate President Michael Waddoups must remove Buttars from the Senate Rules Committee and as chairman of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.
"I have made it very clear about the things that are important to us. It is completely up to [Waddoups] what he decides to do," Jones said. "So, yes, do we want to put a closure to it, yes, absolutely, I think everyone would. We all want to get on with our business."
The controversy has taken away from lawmakers' time to do the people's work. Yesterday, no bills were debated in the morning because of a closed caucus Senate Republicans called to discuss the issue. The Senate plans to make up that floor time tonight.
Jones said Buttars has betrayed the trust Waddoups placed in him by assigning him to such important positions. Buttars is one of seven members of the Senate Rules Committee, which decides when and if bills will move forward. Waddoups said he does agree with some of the Senate Democrats' points, but removing Buttars from Rules would be difficult.
"We haven't had that discussion. But I can reorganize that committee and take anyone off it that has conflicts dealing with any specific issue," Waddoups said. "Unfortunately, the Rules Committee deals with every bill and deals with every issue, so it's going to be hard to take everybody off of there that has a conflict on any bills."
However, Sen. Scott McCoy, the only openly gay member of the senate, volunteered to be removed from the Rules Committee, if Buttars is also removed. Waddoups said he will consider the offer, but is leaning toward not making any further changes.