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House speaker ends daily media availability

FILE - Utah State House Speaker Greg Hughes, speaks at the University of Utah, organized by the Utah Chinese Organizing Committee May 30, 2015, in Salt Lake City. Hughes has ended the longstanding practice of holding daily availability with the news media
FILE - Utah State House Speaker Greg Hughes, speaks at the University of Utah, organized by the Utah Chinese Organizing Committee May 30, 2015, in Salt Lake City. Hughes has ended the longstanding practice of holding daily availability with the news media, saying he prefers to meet with reporters individually.
Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, has ended the longstanding practice of holding daily availability with the news media, saying he prefers to meet with reporters individually.

Both Senate Republicans and GOP Gov. Gary Herbert said they will continue to hold regular meetings with the media. Republicans, who hold supermajorities in the House and Senate, have been criticized for closing legislative caucus meetings.

"I'm going to be available every day to members of the media," Hughes said in an interview with the Deseret News, adding that it is "more meaningful" to sit down with each reporter separately.

He also said he hopes that improves the perception of the Legislature's work.

"I think that as I make myself available, we’ll be able to build those relationships, as well as the ability to get a good message out," the speaker said. "I have to find a better way of doing that."

Traditionally, House speakers have held a daily meeting open to all reporters that could be viewed online. Usually, other members of the leadership team are present along with, at times, sponsors of high-profile bills.

The new policy calls for reporters to request that time with Hughes be scheduled.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, declined to comment on the House leader's actions but said it's "very valuable" to offer daily availability for the media and the public, who are able to text questions.

"We want to have these media availabilities and public access," Niederhauser said. "We want that to be out on the Internet. That's what we're doing now. We encourage the press to be here every day. We want the public to know what we're doing."

Niederhauser said the Senate has not considered changing the format because "it works well for us."

The governor's spokesman, Jon Cox, said the office had no comment on the speaker's decision. Cox said Herbert will hold his first weekly availability this session on Thursday.

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