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Our primer for interpreting legislative lingo

The center of the Utah political universe has migrated to Capitol Hill for the legislative session. Thus, we provide our traditional primer helping readers interpret legislative language — what politicians are saying, and what they really mean.
The center of the Utah political universe has migrated to Capitol Hill for the legislative session. Thus, we provide our traditional primer helping readers interpret legislative language — what politicians are saying, and what they really mean.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Pignanelli and Webb: The center of the Utah political universe has migrated to Capitol Hill for the legislative session. This can be a confusing and frustrating time for normal, well-adjusted people (that excludes your columnists). Thus, we provide our traditional primer helping readers interpret legislative language — what politicians are saying, and what they really mean.

Gov. Gary Herbert: "I welcome legislators back to the Capitol and appreciate the opportunity to address the big issues facing our state.” (Now I know what it would be like to have a nervy mother-in-law take over your house for 45 days and boss you around.)

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and House Speaker Greg Hughes: "We always appreciate the governor’s thoughtful budget recommendations.” (We don’t know and don’t care what's inside the governor's fat budget document; but will burn all copies as an alternative fuel source.)

Realistic lawmakers: “We must face the tough issues and not kick the can down the road." (Unless it deals with a tax increase, and then I'll just bravely step over the can.)

Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan: "I’m proud to lead the largest Republican caucus in Utah history." (Herding cats, even with all the hissing and clawing, would be easier than managing these 63 personalities!)

Lawmakers who oppose a nondiscrimination statute: "I appreciate the thoughtful, balanced, timely advice and counsel from our religious leaders." (Dang. Why could the church not wait until after the session to weigh in on nondiscrimination and religious liberties? Now it will be harder to dodge that issue.)

House Minority Leader Brian King: "Democrats will provide strong and principled opposition to wrong-headed Republican policies." (I'm just glad all the phone booths were removed during the Capitol renovation. That’s where they would have made us hold our caucus meetings.)

Conservative lawmakers: "I share the concerns of so many regarding the need for more resources for transportation and education.” (I wouldn’t vote for a tax increase even if our local roads were falling apart and we spent the least per student in the country. Oh wait, they are, and we do!)

The governor's press secretary: "We appreciate working collaboratively with the legislative branch." (We already have press conferences planned to take credit for whatever good comes out of the session.)

Lobbyists: “We prefer to conduct our business discreetly and only take legislators’ time when truly necessary.” (We pretty much hang out all day sipping Diet Coke in the cushy lobbyist lounge.)

Clean air advocates: “We demand legislators take bold action to clean up Utah’s air.” (But don't ask me to change my lifestyle. I’d rather take my SUV to the Capitol than ride that old Route 500 bus.)

Conservative lawmakers: "We’re concerned about the long-term financial impact of the governor’s Healthy Utah program.” (Hey, it has the smell of Obamacare, so it's DOA.)

Capitol Hill observers: "Rep. Mike McKell is a quick study." (We better be careful, McKell is a younger version of Curt Bramble — tough and smart.)

Democratic caucus: “Our caucus meetings are always open, and we believe in transparent government.” (You’re welcome to attend, but nothing we say or do there has much consequence.)

Political reporters: “This Legislature is maintaining a more moderate, reasonable tone.” (Uggh! So boring!!! No Swallow. No scandal! We need to dig up some “message” bills that make these guys look foolish.)

Rep. Ken Ivory: "We can only protect our liberty from federal encroachment by facing and overcoming our enemies." (By enemies, I mean the news media.)

Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund: "I am optimistic about working with the new House Republican leadership." (We will get along just fine if Hughes and Gang understand that we are the higher, more seasoned, more deliberative body, and they defer to us.)

Sen. Stuart Adams: “Northern Utah lawmakers have a strong camaraderie.” (We will fight to the death to protect the state’s largest employer: Hill Air Force Base.)

Highly loquacious legislators: “Now is the time to apply our cherished constitutional fundamentals. We must stand on principle and do what’s right." (I have no clue what this bill is about, but it’s been at least 15 minutes since I spoke on the floor.)

Emergency room physician and state Sen. Brian Shiozawa: "Blood doesn’t bother me, but I just observed some very disturbing trauma." (Some lobbyist just tried to pull a fast one on Sen. Steve Urquhart. The result was pretty ugly.)

New legislators: "It's always a wise policy to follow the guidance of House leadership." (If you don’t, they send in “The Enforcer” — former BYU defensive tackle and new House Whip Francis Gibson.)

Republican politicians seeking the presidency in 2016: "I appreciate the statesmanship of Mitt Romney. He would've made a great president, and he will leave an admirable legacy.” (Boy, am I glad he’s out. Now maybe I can raise some money.)

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.