Facebook Twitter

Sniping largely avoided

SHARE Sniping largely avoided

Before the 1998 Legislature, Gov. Mike Leavitt and GOP legislative leaders met privately.

Among other items, Leavitt and leaders agreed there would no sniping - which led to some hard feelings between the governor and some Republicans in the 1997 session.By and large, that "nice" goal was met. No fights over gasoline tax hikes. No fights over bonding. No fights over hazardous waste disposal fees.

And most of the bills aimed at controlling Leavitt's executive power were either watered down or killed.

A bill by Rep. Dave Ure, R-Kamas, that would have prohibited Leavitt from even talking about his budget before the Legislature was killed.

Also watered down considerably was Ure's bill that would have stripped the governor of his power to appoint legislators to fill midterm vacancies.

Leavitt still has appointment power, but House and Senate district delegates will send the name, or names, for consideration to the governor. If the delegates only send up one name, Leavitt must appoint that person. If two or three names are sent up, Leavitt may select the person from that list.

Lawmakers did give Leavitt a 3.5 percent pay hike.

And they didn't give themselves a pay increase. However, they did change the way they will reimburse themselves for expenses such as hotel rooms and meals.

To some lawmakers, who live fairly close to the Capitol and will be paid for hotel rooms they never will use, the difference will run in the thousands of dollars a year - money they will have to claim on their personal income taxes.

Lawmakers also avoided one relatively small squabble with Leavitt. They again passed a bill setting up a Capitol building preservation board. They did that in 1997 and Leavitt vetoed it, saying it wasn't balanced. (He didn't get enough appointments to the board, which will decide major restoration projects on the state Capitol building and, more importantly, how space is allocated in the 80-year-old structure).

Leavitt and leaders agreed Wednesday to change the makeup of the board, and no longer does the legislative branch of government have more votes on the Capitol preservation commission. House Speaker Mel Brown told the House that Leavitt agrees with the changes, and so it appears he won't veto this version.