Legislative Update

JurisdictionUtah,United States
CitationVol. 34 No. 1 Pg. 12
Pages12
Publication year2021
Legislative Update
Vol. 34 No. 1 Pg. 12
Utah Bar Journal
February, 2021

January, 2020

2021 Legislative Session Primer

By Doug Foxley, Frank Pignanelli, and Stephen Foxley.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic still causing impacts across government, the Utah State Bar is offering members an update of what changes are in store for the legislative season as the Utah Legislature prepares to convene for the 2021 General Session. We also wish to remind readers of the process that guides the Bar’s advocacy.

The General Legislative Session will begin earlier than prior years, with a new commencement date of Tuesday, January 19, 2021. This is due to the passage of Constitutional Amendment F that allows the legislature to set a start date anytime in January by statute. Anticipating passage of this constitutional amendment, the legislature adopted S.B. 156 in the 2020 session, which provides, “The annual general session of the Legislature shall begin the first Tuesday after the third Monday in January.”

You can expect several new limits on lobbying activity at the Capitol. For example, unlike in years past, lawmakers will not leave the House and Senate floors to speak with the public. The ability to send in blue and green notes to lawmakers from outside legislative chambers will also be eliminated. However, the legislature is still working to conduct as much business as possible in person and to allow public participation. The State Office Building just north of the Capitol is undergoing retrofitting to allow for committee hearings in large spaces that can accommodate greater social distancing. Throughout 2020, lawmakers also conducted several special sessions and interim hearings with a mixture of in-person and online participation. That hybrid will likely continue during the General Session. Other ideas have also been proposed, such as making on-demand COVID-19 testing available at the Capitol or establishing an NBA-style “Bubble.”

In terms of a legislative agenda, expect the COVID-19 response, gubernatorial powers, and economic development to be front and center. Legislative leadership has expressed a desire for members to limit legislation outside of these areas to prioritize bills and issues that were addressed by committees over the past year to address the issues Utahns have experienced over the past year as a result of the pandemic. Adjusting the state’s budget will also be a priority. November estimates of total collections are...

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