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Democrats Slam GOP Move to Gain Seats on Key Legislative Committees

KUER file photo
Utah Capitol

Utah Democratic lawmakers are upset about a bill that would give the GOP a majority on two legislative committees that traditionally have equal representation from both parties.

House Bill 220 sponsored by Republican Representative LaVar Christensen would add two more members from the majority party onto the Legislative Management Committee and an Audit Subcommittee. Those committees currently have equal membership by both parties. Christensen says the bill is an attempt to better represent the will of the people in the day-to-day governance of the Utah legislature.

“It’s just a true, sincere belief in the principle of representative democracy, and representation and proportionality,” Christensen says.

Utah Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon said in a statement that the bill is an attempt to further silence Democrats in Utah. House Minority Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck says these committees were set up decades ago to run the business of the legislature in a bipartisan way, and she adds they’ve been functioning well.

“When we’re all gone, when we’ve left office, these institutions have to remain sacrosanct,” Chavez-Houck says. “That’s what my biggest concern is, that we’re seeing an effort to destroy elements of an institution that really should be preserved, and I think that our citizens deserve better than that.”

Christensen insists that HB220 is not intended to be a power grab, but he says that the current committee structure could lead to a stalemate on some decisions. The bill is slated to be discussed Wednesday in the House Government Operations Committee.

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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