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Bill Changing Balance of Power in Two Legislative Committees Advances to House Floor

Brian Grimmett

A bill that would give the GOP more seats on two key legislative committees received preliminary approval Wednesday.

Republican Representative LaVar Christensen of Draper is the sponsor of House Bill 220. He argues that two legislative committees which currently have equal representation from both parties are not reflective of the voters.

“I believe and submit that it is a flawed structure to deny and fail to honor and respect the proportionality that should result from the majority vote of the people,” Christensen said.

Christensen’s bill would add two more seats from the majority party onto the Legislative Management Committee and an Audit Subcommittee. Democratic Representative Patrice Arent wanted to know why a bipartisan structure that had been in place for 40 years should be changed.

“I’m wondering what the issue is that you’re trying to resolve? What difference would there have been? What problems have occurred?” Arent asked.

“You know, that’s a great question, and it’s not based on personalities,” Christensen said. “It’s based on principle. It’s not a tug of war of any type. It’s not based on any incident.”

Christensen did say that he worried that audit requests were not being filled, and committee vice chair Brad Daw agreed that was a concern. Democrats said there was no evidence that any audits were being held up for partisan reasons, suggesting it was more about lack of resources. Democrat Rebecca Chavez-Houck wondered if changing the balance in the Management Committee would affect legislative staff which have traditionally been nonpartisan positions.

“My concern is by moving in this direction are we opening the door towards moving towards partisan staff with the legislature,” Chavez-Houck said.

“I don’t believe so at all,” Christensen replied.

The only Republican to oppose the bill was Fred Cox.

“I think the structure is a good structure, and I’m nervous about changing that balance,” Cox said.

In the end, members of the House Government Operations committee approved the bill 6 to 3. It goes now to the House floor.

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