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There’s one new face in Utah’s GOP legislative leadership for 2023

A woman and three men sit in a row of formal chairs.
Sean Higgins
Utah Republican House leadership for the 2023 Legislative session. L-R: Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, Speaker Brad Wilson, Rep. Mike Schultz and Rep. Jefferson Moss.

The Republican caucuses at the Utah Legislature chose their leadership Nov. 10.

Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, were reelected to third terms as Senate President and Speaker of the House respectively.

Adams and Wilson have both held their leadership positions since 2019.

The only change in leadership is in the Utah House. Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, will be the new Majority Assistant Whip.

Lisonbee replaces Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem. The Clearfield Republican said she was “honored” to be elected by her House colleagues.

“I’m excited to continue to work with the leadership team here in Utah,” she said. “I bring the perspective of my constituency and I am looking forward to better representing the body as well and working for them … My colleagues have put a great amount of trust in me and I look forward to getting to work and making the most out of this opportunity.”

Lisonbee has been a vocal opponent of abortion. Earlier this year she and Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, sent “cease and desist” letters to several Utah abortion providers and advocacy groups. Those letters were co-signed by 20 other lawmakers.

Planned Parenthood Association of Utah called the letters a “political stunt.” Abortion is legal in Utah up to 18 weeks of pregnancy while a court considers the legality of the state’s controversial “trigger law” that bans elective abortions.

Lisonbee later clarified that the letters are “not a legal analysis from the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel but our opinion and the opinion of the legislators who signed it.”

Lisonbee joins the House leadership team of Speaker Wilson, Rep. Mike Schultz Majority Leader and Rep. Jefferson Moss as Majority Whip.

Along with President Adams, the entire Senate majority leadership team was reelected. Remaining in office are Majority Leader Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, Majority Whip Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, and Majority Assistant Whip Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy.

Looking ahead to the coming session, Adams voiced his confidence in the Legislature.

“I think we have a very mature body, a caucus,” he said. “When you see the process work as well as it does here, it is really exciting.”

Adams also predicted another “year of the tax cut.” He said a strong Utah economy will allow state lawmakers to pursue efforts that might sound contradictory.

“We’ve done some, I think, amazing things with a great economy,” Adams said. “We’ve been able to cut taxes and increase teacher salaries. That doesn’t seem to make sense, but we’re able to do both because of the great economy. ”

Cullimore said taxes, and in particular tax cuts, will be a priority for the Senate this coming year. That includes being creative with property taxes.

“Only a small portion of [property tax] actually comes to the state, but all of it is dictated by state policy,” he said. “And so is there some policy that we can look at that can provide some relief there?”

The 2023 legislative session starts on Jan. 17.

Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
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