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Utah Legislature Taps New HR Administrator

Julia Ritchey

The Utah Legislature is getting a new human resources administrator to oversee all its employees. It comes at a time when state legislatures across the country are re-evaluating their workplace policies.  

Debbie Cragun will be the Legislature’s new point person for everything from payroll to time off to workplace harsassment – an issue that’s been on the forefront of many people’s minds in recent weeks.

Speaker of the House Greg Hughes says the position had been in the works for a few years, but it couldn’t come at a better time.

“From the Harvey Weinstein moment till today, you’ve seen a lot happen. And nobody could’ve predicted the kind of headlines that we’ve all been reading together,” he says. “But [while] we started this a while ago, it is timely.”

The new position is designed to operate more independently from the Legislature. The position will report to the Legislative Services Council, which is made up of five staff directors, including the chiefs of staff for the House and Senate.

Hughes says having one point person will be more efficient for when someone has an issue or concern.

“Having an HR director where it’s more consistent, I think, it’s just improving our processes across the board. I think that we’ll be better off as a legislative branch for having that there," he says. 

Cragun previously served as executive director of the Utah Department of Human Resources Management. She’ll start her position next month, on Jan. 15, just before the start of the legislative session.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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