Veteran lawmakers have developed some tricks to get around legislative rules to push through controversial or complicated legislation. One Senator says it's time for that to stop.
Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, is proposing two changes to how bills are handled to cut down on the shenanigans that can happen in the final week or two of a session.
"When we pass 30, 40, 50 percent of all bills in the final three days, some of my colleagues like to keep their bills and wait so they don't have to go through a full public hearing," says Anderegg. "That game playing is not good public policy. It's not what we should be doing in my opinion."
To that end, Anderegg has proposed two resolutions to fix what he says are abuses of the system.
First, SR1 says the Senate Rules Committee cannot send out a bill during the first two weeks of the session that has not had a favorable recommendation from an interim committee. This change would not apply to lawmakers in the House.
Second, SJR12 increases the number of "priority" bills a legislator can request from three to four and directs the various committee chairs to place those priority bills higher up on any the agenda than non-priority legislation up for a hearing.
"Why not limit ourselves to four priority bills?" says Anderegg. "You can open up as many bills as you want but, by and large, those bills need to go through an interim committee review. The cream will rise to the top."
The Legislature is on track to once again have a record number of bill files opened this year. One lawmaker reportedly had a whopping 82 bill file requests. Anderegg says, his colleagues can do that if they wish, but he wants to get the really important legislation through the process early.
Anderegg also wants his colleagues to request their priority bills earlier, which would incentivize them going through the interim. For example, the deadline to request the first priority bill is moved up a month from the first Thursday in December to the first Thursday in November.
Anderegg tried to do something similar last year with a proposal that barred the legislature from considering any bill or amendment that hadn't been available publicly for less than 48 hours. That idea never made it out of the Senate Rules Committee, even though it was introduced on the first day of the 2017 session.
Anderegg is not sure if his fellow lawmakers will willingly put limits on themselves.
"If it really is that important and it really is a good bill, get buy-in from your colleagues and let's stop the horse trading during the last three days."