Legislative Coverage

Bill to Eliminate Power Sharing in Administrative Committees Passes Utah House

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(KCPW News) A measure that would shuffle the makeup of two nuts-and-bolts legislative committees to favor Republicans passed the Utah House of Representatives on a 41-33 vote on Tuesday. House Bill 220 by Draper Republican Rep. LaVar Christensen would do away with the traditionally-equal bipartisan makeup of the Legislative Audit Subcommittee and the Legislative Management Committee.

During floor debate on Tuesday, Christensen said that it was wrong “to fail to honor and respect the

Rep. LaVar Christensen, of Draper
Rep. LaVar Christensen
proportionality that should result from the majority vote of the people.” He said his initiative wasn’t about politics, but was instead “a matter of principle.”

The Audit Subcommittee determines which agencies to audit, while the Management Committee is in charge of staff hires and operations at the legislature.

Democratic Representative Brad King, of Price, said that since the establishment of the two committees in 1975, when both chambers of the legislature and the Governor’s office were controlled by Democrats, their make-up had not been challenged, and told lawmakers that “many principled people…have not felt that this is a necessary thing.”

Milcreek Democratic Rep. Patrice Arent read aloud a letter from former Republican House Speaker Nolan Karras, which urged lawmakers not to reorganize the structure of the Management Committee in particular. Karra’s letter said that the even split was designed to “signal to the non-partisan staff that they were not to act in the interest of one party versus the other party.”

Rep. Christensen’s bill passed the House, despite 21 Republicans joining Democrats to vote against it. The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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