The 2022 general legislative session ended on Friday and will be remembered, at least among engaged politicos, as historic. Although our column deadline was earlier in the week, these two veteran observers (aka old guys) have seen enough to comment.

What are the noteworthy legislative accomplishments of the session?

Pignanelli: “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what people say. I just watch what they do.” Andrew Carnegie

This was my 36th legislative session at the Capitol (including 10 years as a lawmaker). Thus, if experience provides perspective, I have loads of it. For example, every year noises from the Legislature generate anger, frustration, confusion and even laughter. Yet, veteran observers and I understand the true measures of lawmakers are their actions and results. The 2022 proceedings reaffirms this assessment.

Support for public education was noteworthy — $383 million in ongoing revenue, a 9% increase. Many projects and buildings for higher education were also funded. Of interest is $55 million for establishing the Homeless Housing and Services Grant Program.

Utah is the second driest state in the country, a condition further emphasized by recent hot summers. If our state wants to maintain strong economy that attracts growth, this challenge cannot be ignored. Thankfully, lawmakers stepped up in a big way. An unprecedented $400 million was dedicated towards water efficiency, including secondary metering. Our treasured Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake received much needed love to improve their conditions.

Financial services is the state’s largest economic sector, employing almost 100,000 Utahns. We are known across the planet for monetary security and innovation. But we cannot rest on those laurels. This is why legislation establishing a task force on cryptocurrency and block chain technology, along with other bills dealing with digital activities, were the quiet but imperative legislative products.

What did not happen is equally interesting. Bills regarding alleging voter fraud received no traction. A program to establish vouchers for private schools garnered media attention but not enough support.

Age does not prevent, but actually enhances, appreciation for outcomes over rhetoric. Annually, the Legislature exercises these mental muscles.

Webb: Lawmakers made historic investments in education (but still not enough to make Utah the best education state in the country), water conservation, and the Great Salt Lake ($350 million total for water). They approved the largest budget ($24 billion) in state history — augmented by a boatload of federal money.

They put big state-funded public transit capital projects under the Utah Department of Transportation, instead of leaving those projects with Utah Transit Authority. That might mean increased state funding for public transit.

They started a discussion about providing more flexibility on use of income taxes, which might require a future constitutional amendment. 

Certainly, no one is ever completely happy with legislative results. Given that we have 104 citizen lawmakers from disparate locations and backgrounds, there will always be crazy bills introduced, crazy speeches given and a few weird things slipping through the cracks.

But, overall, lawmakers conducted the state’s business wisely and with dispatch. They addressed the state’s largest problems, balanced the state budget, and made investments to prepare the state for continued prosperity.

Compared to their display of common sense, achievement and decorum, the federal Congress looks like the bar scene in “Star Wars.”

Did the session produce any issues that Republicans and Democrats can use in their upcoming campaigns and elections?

Pignanelli: Ultra conservatives and progressives, along with moderates, will have a cornucopia of hot legislative topics to use in campaigns. These include tax cuts, education funding, accountability measures, support or opposition for cultural message bills, etc.

Webb: Certainly, Republicans will tout a relatively modest (in the context of a $24 billion budget) $193 million tax cut. It won’t make much difference in campaigns, because voters won’t much notice it. They will also talk about boosting education funding by 9%, providing significant money for affordable housing and homeless services (but not as much as advocates wanted). More money for outdoor recreation and state parks could help rural areas.

Democrats got some major bills passed, saw investment in government programs they support and they defeated vouchers (with a lot of Republican help). Parents will not be able to use state tax dollars to enroll their children in private schools.

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Was there cordiality or hostility between legislative houses, the governor and the two parties?

Pignanelli: Utah is well known for politeness. But, a legislative session can erode manners, which did not occur this year. Perhaps loads of federal money helps to soothe bruising personality encounters.

Webb: Perhaps because Republicans are so dominant, they can afford to be magnanimous to Democrats. Democrats know that resistance is futile. If the parties were more balanced there would, no doubt, be more partisan fights. For the most part, lawmakers do genuinely like each other. And the governor and legislators negotiate in good faith, and even compromise (something that is alien at the federal level).

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Email: Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Email:

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