Even though the Utah Legislative session won’t start up again for another nine months, it’s never too early to start making plans for what policies we need changed. Because of that, here is a brief overview of how the Utah Legislative bodies operate.

Utah state’s government mirrors the nation’s with three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. Inside the Legislative system exists two parties: the House and the Senate. Both parties are elected directly by the public. Senators serve four-year terms while the House serves for two. The House of Representative is based on population and is the closest to the people whereas the Senate is district-based. Each Utah resident is represented by a Senator and a Representative. 

Currently, Utah has 29 Senators and 75 Representatives. Both the Senate and the House have presiding officers: the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House. Both officers oversee daily sessions, sign proceedings, and represent their respective houses. Our current president of the Senate is Stuart Adams and our speaker of the House is Mike Schultz.

In both parties the majority and minority leaders are the next in the chain of command. The majority represents the overall political leanings of the state. Both majority and minority leaders are elected to conduct party caucuses, manage legislation in discussion, and stimulate support or opposition to legislation. 

The party whip and assistant whip are the next rung on the legislative ladder. They carry out assignments given by majority and minority leaders while also bringing to light any concern addressed by their parties. “Whip” is derived from the fox-hunting expression “whipper-in” and refers to the team responsible for keeping the dogs focused during a chase.

What follows are the legislative committees who meet during the 45 day general legislative session held in January each year. During this time an conservation idea, for example, is processed. It passed on to the Office of Legislative Research who studies the issue and, if deemed important, brings it to the Legislature and Rules Committee. Afterwards it goes to the Standing Committee who holds meetings open to public input. The bill is then reported to the full house by the committee and is then debated. The bill must pass both houses with 38 votes in the House and 15 in the Senate. It is then prepared as an “enrolled” bill and sent off to the Governor for action. Within 60 days an enacted bill becomes law. 

Thankfully, the general legislative session is not the only legislative process in a year. The Utah Interim Session, occurring from May to November, is a series of committee meetings and task forces facilitating oversight in the legislature. By maintaining engagement with policy throughout the year, lawmakers are able to proactively amend, address, and devote more time to making informed decisions that benefit the public.