The Utah 2024 legislature adjourned a week ago, but observers are still calculating the impact. We illuminate some of the political deliberations by using a “reverse Jeopardy!” format — ask questions inquiring minds want to know and provide answers (or at least what we think they should be). So here it is (with apologies to Ken Jennings).

Did legislators do anything worthwhile? Yep. 3.3 million Utahns can find something to despise or admire about what legislators did — or didn’t do — over 45 days. Which means they did a lot, including tax reductions, important policies on energy and water, and new programs for housing and homelessness. They tackled social media problems, boosted funding for education and myriad other things. Congress would take about 15 years to accomplish what our state lawmakers did in less than two months.

Did the Legislature break the 2023 record for passing bills? Yes. The Legislature passed 591 bills — an all-time record. Is that good or bad? You decide. Some 942 bills and resolutions were introduced. (Frank, who reviewed each one, still has eyestrain.)

How many bills will Gov. Spencer Cox veto? Zero. Although he may grumble about some. He did help mold a lot of legislation.

Are they superhuman? Probably. Legislative staff endured extraordinary conditions, drafted nearly a thousand bills, staffed committees and kept the Legislature humming.

Why all the talk about rooftops? The governor and lawmakers are very worried about affordable housing shortages. Between funding novel programs and creating various housing zones, our leaders were innovative.

What’s he gonna do? Although he filed for reelection to keep his options open, it was common knowledge at the session that Sen. Curt Bramble, a major force on Capitol Hill for almost 25 years, hadn’t decided whether to seek another term. Speculation about his possible retirement was rampant and of especially high interest to those who filed against him, including former Sen. Dan Hemmert, Rep. Keven Stratton and former Rep. Brad Daw.

How’s he doing? This question usually referred to new Speaker Mike Schultz. He did well. His savvy political instincts and ability to lead a caucus were impressive. He is officially a force to be reckoned with in Utah politics.

How does he do it? This is often asked about Senate President Stuart Adams. Despite grueling demands, this veteran lawmaker always maintains optimism, cheerfulness and unabated love of the Legislature. And he gets things done.

Which bill will get the most substitutes? The winner is SB161, Energy Security Amendments, which produced six substitutes. Really old guys like us recognize that as the “cherry colored” paper used for a sixth substitute. (Yes, the bill was very controversial and much amended.)

Why are they cutting income taxes? A consistent question and easy answer. More than two-thirds of lawmakers are Republican conservatives. The budget has enjoyed surplus revenues for many years and this is what the GOP does.

Another tax break approved by the Utah Legislature
Utah Legislature approves allowing more children at unlicensed day care facilities

Will public education get anything? Yeah, like hundreds of millions of new dollars for teacher salaries and a healthy increase in the weighted pupil unit.

How is the minority party faring? The all-female team leading the loyal opposition provided clear and articulate opposition when needed, but also supported measures that benefitted all.

Why are they talking about bathrooms and college diversity stuff? Lawmakers did away with DEI titles, but still provided healthy support for marginalized students. They provided gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to bathrooms for boys only and girls only. The expressed concerns for teenagers and young adults impacted by these actions were eloquent and compelling. But, resulting legislation reflected the input of constituents and national trends.

Why do these liberal Salt Lake City and County officials support incentives for professional sports stadiums? SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall and all lawmakers representing the Capital City supported (in varying degrees) legislation diverting tax revenue to help woo major league baseball and hockey teams. While economists badmouth such actions, these officials understand that the city cannot lose premier sporting entertainment arenas to other municipalities. The lessons learned from Major League Soccer locating in Sandy still resonate.

Any new regulations imposed on those nefarious lobbyists? Many were sponsored but only one passed. Attempts to influence a lawmaker through his or her employer is now illegal. Only fools would’ve tried that ridiculous ploy anyway.

Any new sin measures? Booze and beer will be a little more expensive with state markups. Electronic cigarettes and vaping will be restricted through a registry with limits on flavored products.


What did they do about AI? Use of artificial intelligence in political campaigns now requires disclosure. Lawmakers were unsure how to grapple with this new frontier of technology in economic and lifestyle activities. So they established the Office of Artificial Intelligence Policy to review policy ideas, and the Artificial Intelligence Learning Laboratory Program to assess technologies, risks and recommendations. A responsible, common-sense approach.

Can the governor and Legislature really eliminate the negative aspects of social media? Not totally. But they are trying — and risking litigation. They revised legislation passed in 2023 and are taking another shot at it.

Did the early candidate filing deadline have any unusual impact? It’s hard to verify. Some observers believe knowing one’s opponents produced more bills condemning the federal government or promoting conservative social causes. But there actually weren’t many more “message” bills than usual.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a former journalist and a semi-retired small farmer and political consultant. Email: Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser who served as a Democrat in the Utah state Legislature. Email:

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