Lawmakers finish sleepy first week of 2012 session

Slow might be the best word to describe the first week of the Utah Legislature. But lawmakers expect things to pick up soon.
“I think it’s been a great week, no big surprises,” said House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo.
None of the big issues — illegal immigration, liquor laws, education, budgets — have reared their heads yet. But they will.
There’s a lot of negotiations going on behind the scenes as legislators get ready to unveil their bills, said House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins said the first week of the 45-day session can be slow after the respective houses deal with bills passed by interim committees that met over the summer and fall.
“Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves,” said Jenkins, R-Plain City.
Executive appropriations co-chairman Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said the Legislature’s leaner staff may be a contributing factor.
“We had to cut our staff due to some of the budget reductions. We’re not isolated from that,” Hillyard said.
With an improved revenue picture, the 2012 Legislature has been spared the task that kept lawmakers busy at the beginning of last year’s session: cutting base budgets due to the economic downturn.

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