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New Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes Outlines Ambitious Agenda

Andrea Smardon
House Speaker Greg Hughes (R-51) in his office at the Utah Capitol. (Jan. 26, 2015)

In the wake of the death of former Utah House speaker Rebecca Lockhart, new speaker Greg Hughes was sworn in today and laid out his agenda for the legislative session.

Speaker Hughes stood with the late Becky Lockhart’s husband and daughters as he took the oath of office. He thanked them for their strength.

“Speaker Lockhart more than anybody would tell us that we have a job to do, that we need to move forward and we need to get to work, and as I recall, she was not a fan… of inaction.”

House members applauded and laughed. Hughes was referencing Speaker Lockhart’s strongly worded speech last year, when she called Governor Gary Herbert an inaction figure, and challenged him on his proposed healthcare policies. But Hughes took a more compromising tone, and said now is the time to take action and get to work doing difficult but transformative things, including a decision on Medicaid expansion.

“We look forward to collaborating together on this issue to find common ground, and ultimately develop solutions that best serve the interests of all of the citizens of our great state,” he said.

Hughes laid out an ambitious agenda, to tackle transportation funding, criminal justice reform, and education improvements. He said 1.8 billion dollars of new economic activity in the state is generating more taxes each year, creating an opportunity to finally address needed reforms.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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