Utah lawmakers are doing what they do best, filing bills for next month's Legislature, and doing it at a record pace.
The 104 legislators convene Jan. 8 for 45 consecutive days of talking, listening and compromising.Richard Strong, director of Legislative Research and General Counsel, oversees the bill-drafting process. As of the end of October, Strong's office had received 489 bill requests. That compares with 310 requests the same time last year.
"If it grows through the session at this rate, we'll see 1,600 bills worked on by our staff," Strong said. That compares with 1,100 requests during the 1989 general session of last January and February.
Some lawmakers ask for a bill to be drafted and then abandon their plan and never formally introduce the measure. For example, out of 1,100 requests for bills in the last session, only 783 bills and resolutions were introduced.
Only 339 were passed into law.
Still, the large number of requests this year is swamping Strong's 12 attorneys, who actually draft the bills.
The load is eased a bit by atttorney/legislators - there are about a dozen of them - who sometimes draft their own bills. Also, paid legal lobbyists, who often pride themselves on writing a bill that becomes law, write some bills as well.
"But all the bills, by rule, must come through us. We review each one, making changes where appropriate," said Strong.
Some downtown legal firms have tried to sneak a bill through without Strong's attorneys reviewing it. "We have a seal we use in this office, and we've seen downtown attorneys try to duplicate that on a bill. They've tried to duplicate the initials of our staff attorneys that also accompany a bill. They've done all kinds of things to get a bill introduced without coming through us. It never works. We catch them sooner or later, especially with our electronic computer system that's tied in with the House and Senate clerks. Only we can type a bill into the system."
Here are the latest bills prefiled for next month's session:
HB1 (Slack) - Requires financial disclosure by Political Issue Committees, groups that attempt to influence public policy decisions like the Olympics or tax-cutting initiatives.
HB2 (Rose) - Provides for rehabilitation payments under workmen's compensation.
HB3 (Oscarson) - Restricts bidding ability of businesses that perform studies of state agencies.
HB4 (Ockey) - Expands the duties of the state's risk manager.
HB5 (Smedley) - Creates a Utah Suggestion Awards Program.
HB6 (Rose) - Provides that the state minimum wage be the same as the federal minimum wage.
HB7 (Rose) - Increases the penalty for driving a car without insurance.
HB8 (Halverson) - Creates a small business linked deposit program and outlines what kinds of loans can be obtained from the program.
HB9 (Rose) - Changes criminal law to allow a complaint of brandishing a weapon if only one person, not two, see the weapon.
HB10 (Jones) - Changes the requirements for listing subcontractors for bids on public projects.
HB11 (Rush) - Requires medical insurance to cover temporomandibular joint disorder and craniomandibular skeletal deformities.
HB12 (Burningham) - Requires the establishment of a non-partisan reapportionment commission.
HB13 (Fox) - Makes technical changes in the motor vehicle operator's law.
HB14 (Rush) - Prohibits the free distribution of smokeless or chewing tobacco.
HB15 (Hull) - Requires smoke detectors in certain dwellings.
HB16 (Bradford) - Requires continuing education as a prerequisite to real estate license renewal.
HB17 (Dmitrich) - Establishes additional qualifications for county sheriffs and automatic removal from office if the qualifications aren't met.
HB18 (C. Moody) - Requires legislative approval before construction of a radioactive waste treatment or disposal facility.
HB19 (Rush) - Gives an income tax credit for consecutive years of marriage.
HB20 (White) - Provides for the licensing of substance-addiction counselors.
HB21 (Wasden) - Provides for prisoner of war license plates.
HB22 (Hull) - Establishes an occupational information coordination committee within the Department of Employment Security.
HB23 (Lunt) - Defines liability limits for volunteers and the organizations for which they serve.
HB24 (Frandsen) - Changes the payment period for a bad check.
HB25 (Jensen) - Requires certain bad checks to be presented to the bank for a second time before being bounced for good.
HB26 (Valentine) - Implements a uniform version of the uniform transfer to minors act.
HB27 (Dmitrich) - Gives a credit against corporate franchise and gross receipt tax for the purchase of Utah coal.
HB28 (Bishop) - Removes certain practices from regulation under the cosmetologist/barber licensing act.
HB29 (J. Moody) - Creates a task force to study issues of employed people who can't afford health insurance.
HB30 (Young) - Repeals the Utah Conservation and Research Foundation.
HB31 (Pignanelli) - Provides criminal penalties for those who either train others or assemble for the unlawful use of weapons or explosives.
HB32 (Wasden) - Allows reciprocal use of emission inspections for vehicles among counties.
HB33 (Rushton) - Provides penalties for criminal gang activities.
HB34 (Ostler) - Sets up waste tire recycling fees.
HB35 (White) - Makes technical changes in the statute of limitations for criminal acts.
HB36 (M. Evans) - Gives an additional income tax exemption for certain elderly dependents.