clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Utah legislators — what they said ... and what they meant

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, talks about a new Utah School Safety Commission at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, talks about a new Utah School Safety Commission at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Pignanelli and Webb: The 2018 legislative session concluded last week and, as usual, it consisted of an awful lot of talk. But sometimes all those words require some translation. So we reprise our annual service to readers, noting what they said ... and revealing what they really meant.

Gov. Gary Herbert: "Out of deference and respect to lawmakers, my office and I stayed mostly quiet during the session." (Why should I interfere as legislators beat each other up; I look more like a statesman.)

Many lawmakers: “We certainly respect ballot initiatives, but just want to ensure that they are appropriately implemented." (These dang things are a terrible nuisance. We know better than the hundreds of thousands of Utahns who sign petitions and vote for initiatives.)

Senate leadership: "Rumors of friction between us and the House are overblown. We respect the speaker and his passion.” (It’s a total zoo over there, while we govern with dignity, gentility and style.)

House leadership: "Rumors of intense shouting matches between us and the Senate leadership are fake news. We respect the president and his deliberative style.” (Getting action out of that arrogant House of Lords is intensely frustrating. The Senate should be called the House of Turtles.)

Politically correct lawmakers: "Capitol Hill must be a safe place for everyone, so we are requiring lobbyists and journalists to take sexual harassment training.” (They can’t refuse or they appear insensitive. It’s great watching them squirm.)

Bitter people who post on social media: “The Legislature is a self-serving cadre of crooks.” (I have no clue how it works or anything about legislators, but I hate anyone more important than me.)

Most all legislators: “The best government is closest to home, so we appreciate the insights and hard work of our partners at the county and city levels.” (The state created those entities and we’ll bully them any time we wish.)

Veteran lobbyists: "We are proud to be a critical part of the important legislative process." (We’re like gut bacteria; no one wants to acknowledge us, but they know they need us.)

Ambitious legislators: "I admire the strong, steady guidance and experience of our leaders.” (Finally, some of those dinosaurs are retiring, providing a long overdue opportunity for me.)

Nervous Republican lawmakers: “We need to ensure that the nomination process is fair and reasonable.” (We need to figure out a way to quell those crazies on the Central Committee or chaos is ahead.)

Nervous Democrat lawmakers: "I am committed to bipartisanship in solving the state problems and I value my relationships with Republicans." (My bills are stuck, but I don’t want to further irritate them.)

Real nervous Democrat lawmakers: “Every day I promote Utah values in the Legislature." (I need to start crafting a moderate image to withstand the upcoming Romney tsunami.)

House Speaker Greg Hughes: “I am retiring from the Legislature to use my skills in other endeavors that benefit our state.” (I correctly predicted Trump. I’m solving homelessness and the opioid crisis. We’re funding education at unprecedented levels. The big office on the second floor beckons.)

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser: “Leading the Senate has been a joy and an opportunity of a lifetime.” (I am so looking forward to a long bike trip. I’d rather dodge potholes and life-threatening drivers than endure another day dealing with the House mob and smug news reporters.)

Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis: "We are a real moderating influence in the Senate." (Once in a while they let us select a luncheon menu.)

House Minority Leader Brian King: “We enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Republican House leaders.” (Goodness, they despise the Senate even more than they do the loyal opposition.)

GOP legislative leadership: "We appreciate the efforts of Gov. Herbert and his staff for their input into the legislative process." (We’ve been running the show for years and it ain't changing now.)

Visionary lawmakers: “We believe changing the name and governance structure of the UTA will provide a fresh start.” (If this doesn’t work, we stick it under UDOT.)

Swing district legislators: "I’m working hard with my fellow lawmakers to dedicate tremendous amounts of resources to public education." (I hope we did enough to avoid irritating half my voters, but not so much that I irritate the other half.)

Key lawmakers: “We look forward to a productive partnership with Salt Lake City as we develop the Inland Port in the northwest quadrant.” (There is no way we entrust the largest economic development project of the century to those radical left wingers. They’re lucky to have a seat at the table.)

Capitol Hill reporters: "We demand unimpeded access to scrutinize perks and gifts to lawmakers from lobbyists." (We have the divine right to enjoy those ultra-convenient and coveted reserved parking places.)

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: 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 the president/CEO of the Special Olympics of Utah. Email: