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Republican Leaders Note Economic Expansion And Mental Health As Priorities For 2021 Legislature

Photo of the Utah state capitol building.
Brian Albers
The Utah Legislature’s 2021 General Session started Tuesday. Lawmakers will meet in person and virtually this session.

The Utah Legislature’s 2021 General Session kicked off Tuesday with a familiar face in Utah politics.

Recently retired Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, — who also served as the state’s House Speaker in the 1990s — swore in new and returning members of the House of Representatives.

“Congratulations. You are now part of this body,” Bishop said. “You’ll find out you are now part of the fastest and the longest 45 days of your life.”

Bishop then handed the reins over to House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville. In his opening remarks, Wilson reflected on the challenges of the past year, from the pandemic to natural disasters to civil unrest.

“But in the midst of all this tragedy, we have seen Utahns facing adversity with determination, overcoming challenges with innovation, and lifting others with compassion,” Wilson said.

He also said this is a time of “great opportunity” and that he wants to build on Utah’s economy by reviewing business regulations.

“In a hyper-competitive marketplace, we simply cannot afford to crush new industries before they can even get off the ground,” Wilson said, “by forcing them to fit into a regulatory framework that has never envisioned the innovations of tomorrow’s economy.”

In the Senate, President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said he wanted to focus on the state’s mental health efforts.

He mentioned a receiving center in Davis County that diverts people experiencing mental health crises from jail and said he wants to see more programs like that throughout the state.

“Through the pandemic, mental health needs have increased,” Adams said. “We cannot ignore this growing concern. Utah should create models the country can use to help address this important issue.”

Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers. Adams and Wilson each said they want a tax cut for Utahns this year.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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