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Politics & Government

House Democrats Lay Out Priorities for 2016 Legislative Session

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Brian Grimmett
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Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake, speaks with House Speaker Greg Hughes

Democratic members of the Utah House of Representatives laid out what they hope to accomplish during the 2016 legislative session at a press conference Wednesdayat the state capitol.

Leaders of the House Democrats say their focus for this year isn’t much different from years past. They’d like to see legislation that continues the effort to improve air quality, healthcare coverage, and education funding. Specifically, leaders say they’d like to see funding for Higher Education separated from K through 12 funding.

Democratic Rep. Patrice Arent says while being in the minority makes passing bills harder, they’ve managed to successfully pass several bills the past few years, particularly in regards to air quality.

“I think it’s making sure you’ve done your homework," she says. "Working with people who care about this. Bringing up the advocates that are passionate. All the same things we’ve been doing. Making sure we’re very prepared. And it works.”

While true, this year might prove to be more difficult for Democrats, due to public disagreements between House Speaker Greg Hughes and House Minority Leader Brian King. Hughes indicated he didn’t want the Governor to call a special session for the latest Medicaid expansion proposal until he had support from enough Republicans to pass the bill, regardless of Democratic support. But King says that approach troubled him and other Democrats who say they’ve always been included in the process.

“To say that it’s always been this way, that we’ve never passed anything out of the house without 38 Republican votes is just absolutely false and it’s just not reflected in the record,” he says.

King says he doesn’t expect his public criticism of the speaker to impact Democratic bills, and that he’ll continue to disagree with him, at least on this point of process. 

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