(KCPW News) A Republican state lawmaker is pitching a bill that would require the House and Senate GOP to keep their caucus meetings open. Currently, House Republicans sometimes close their meetings, while Senate Republicans always close them.
“I believe that there is actually better discussion, more honest discussion that happens when we are in open caucus, and I base that on my own experience of being here for three years now,” says Heber City Representative Kraig Powell.
Powell’s announcement at the State Capitol Tuesday comes after he claimed that he feared retaliation if he voted against HB 477, a controversial bill that restricts Utah’s open records law.
The House Speaker has denied any threat, however, and fellow Republican Representative Carl Wimmer says Powell is just looking for a boogeyman to justify his “yes” vote on the bill. But Powell says there was a risk that during the final days of the legislative session, his bills would get brushed aside if he voted “no.”
“I am not saying that there was any identifiable threat. I am saying that there was a risk, and I think Representative Wimmer knows very well that there is always a risk at the end of the session that your bill for one reason or another will not get passed,” said Powell. “I don’t think that that can be denied, and I was trying to protect the hard work of my constituents on these bills.”
Powell is also proposing to change legislative rules to require there to be a 72-hour period after the draft of a bill is released before it can be passed by either house of the legislature.
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