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In Republican Controlled Legislature, Passing Bills Isn't Always Easy

Brian Grimmett

For a bill to become law the Senate, the House, and the Governor all have to give their approval. But even with a Republican super-majority in the Utah legislature, that process often encounters obstacles.

Every year it appears that there is at least one issue that the members of the House or Senate feel strongly about, that the other chamber is not interested in at all. Whether it be removing the so-called Zion Curtain, or trying to pass a Medicaid expansion alternative, the two groups full of people from the same party, can’t come to an agreement.

Republican Senator Lyle Hillyard has served in Legislature for 35 years. He says the conflict between the two chambers often arises because the Senate tends to be more deliberate, due in part because they’re elected every four years, instead of every two.

“In the Senate I think it’s more of a country club," he says. "We personalize things more because we work with each other more. Over in the House you don’t have that same personal kind of thing that you do in the Senate. And so, I found when I was in the House I could debate like crazy on an issue against the legislator and on the next issue he or she and I were on the same side.”

But House Speaker Greg Hughes says he thinks the conflicts between the House and Senate are mostly overblown.

“I see good signs on transportation," Hughes says. "I see good signs on the anti-discrimination and the religious liberties front. I think education funding we’ve come together well. I don’t see this divisiveness throughout the session or between the House and Senate.”

Meanwhile, the two groups still can’t seem to come to an agreement on what to do about Medicaid expansion, and with only two days left in the session, it appears unlikely that leaders from both chambers will reach a compromise. 

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