Herbert to Legislators: Join the ‘Common Sense Party’

(KCPW News) Governor Gary Herbert made himself available to the media on Thursday, and a handful of topics were broached during the 25-minute press conference, including Sen. Steve Urquhart’s LGBT non-discrimination bill, which was recently killed by the Republican Senate Caucus. The governor had previously expressed interest in such a bill, but on Thursday Herbert deferred to the legislature’s decision.

“The question is always, ‘Do you need to have a law to tell you to do the right thing?’” Herbert said. “And cities have said, ‘Yes, we do. We want to have some guidelines,’ and we have 18 cities that have done that. I expect that that has been discussed in different cities. That’s been a good process as we’ve evolved. Whether we need a statewide ordinance right now, I think, is unclear.”

Another issue discussed was Medicaid expansion. To that point, Herbert stuck to his position that the state should accept at least some federal funds.

“Whether I send a check in as a taxpayer, and it’s my federal tax, or I send in a check and it’s my state tax, or I send in a check that goes to my county or my city, it all comes out of the taxpayer’s pocket,” he said. “I just think it’s not a good argument to say, ‘Well, this is federal tax money that comes from our people as opposed to state taxpayer money that comes from our people.’”

However, House Speaker Becky Lockhart has been outspoken about not taking federal dollars for Medicaid expansion. Herbert, though, said that legislators should be working to find a middle ground on this and other issues.

“Set aside any personal agendas and politics and just say, ‘You know what? We’re here for these 45 days to do the people’s work, solve problems, find common sense solutions,’” said Herbert.

He then added, “I’m inviting everybody to join with me the common sense party—Republicans and Democrats alike. If we do that, we will find consensus and find a Utah solution.”

The governor also said he is not concerned about a potential challenge for the governorship by Lockhart. Instead, he said his focus is to “govern the best that I am capable and bring people together.”