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House Speaker Opens Legislative Session With Passionate Words About Public Lands

Brian Grimmett
Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes addresses members of the House on the opening day of the 2016 Legislative Session

The 2016 session of the Utah Legislature began on Monday. Listen to some of the sounds of the opening day from the State Capitol.

The familiar chimes of the Utah House rang out for the first time since last year, signaling legislators to make their way to the House chamber. Next, came House Speaker Greg Hughes and the crack of the gavel officially calling the session to order. In his nearly hour long opening speech, Hughes praised legislators for all they accomplished last session, and laid out his vision of what he wants to get done this year. The list includes more technology in the hands of students, continued work on air quality, and transferring public lands to the state.

“I’m just going to tell you," he said. "If you think this argument is frivolous, then you don’t know the issue. If you think that this issue does not matter to every single one of us here in the state of Utah, then you need to think again. If you care about public education, you need to care about this issue.”

While his speech garnered applause from most people in the chamber, Utah House Democrats weren’t as enthusiastic. House Minority Leader Brian King said the tone of the speech was too much that of a super majority leader than of the Speaker of the whole House of Representatives.

“I was disappointed that there was not more talk and recognition of the reality that many of the things that the Speaker talked about that we accomplished in the last session, would not have been accomplished without Democrats’ votes,” King said.

The Utah Legislature lasts 45 days and will adjourn on Thursday, March 10.  In that time legislators will debate hundreds of bills and finalize the state’s budget for the upcoming year. 

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