Facebook Twitter

Legislators drawing up special-session rules

SHARE Legislators drawing up special-session rules

Legislators want to be able to call themselves into special session and to require 72-hour "public notice of any item to be considered" in such a session.

Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, got a bill through a committee Thursday that would ban lawmakers from considering any special session item that Gov. Mike Leavitt didn't put on the agenda 72 hours before the Legislature convenes. It's become common practice for the governor to call lawmakers into special session (only he can do that under the current constitution) and then add items to the agenda the day legislators are meeting.

"I don't want to be a hypocrite," said Urquhart. "In the last special session a group of legislators went down to the governor's office (the day of the session) to ask him to put something on the call and I went with them."

But the practice is wrong; it denies the public adequate notice before important items are considered and passed. Most special sessions last just one or two days.

Two constitutional amendments have already been introduced that, if approved by the Legislature and voters, would let the Legislature itself call itself into special session. Leaders from both political parties guess one will ultimately pass. Legislators were upset with Leavitt last fall when he refused to call them into special session to deal with a growing budget short fall this year.

Lawmakers are now trying to cut $200 million from budgets over the next two weeks.

"I just want to make sure that when we call special sessions, we have to give (72-hour) notice" to the public as well before an item can be considered," said Neal Hendrickson, D-West Valley City.

"That's my intent," said Urquhart.