Pignanelli and Webb: What Utahns say and what they really mean

A very grueling, contentious legislative session adjourned last week. We know it was a rough session because events on our Capitol Hill even overshadowed the circus in Washington D.C. — a rarity. We know it’s hard to follow the nuances of legislative action because of all the political mumbo-jumbo. So, to clarify what really happened, we offer our traditional annual feature: “What they say … and what they mean.”

Lawmakers pushing tax reform: “Broadening the base of the sales tax to include all professional services ensures fiscal soundness and fairness.” (Wow, we have achieved a remarkable feat: Every business association and interest group in Utah is spitting mad at us!)

Freshman legislators: “We were surprised and pleased with the diversity of legislation this session.” (Alcohol, cigarettes, stronger beer, vaping, horseracing, premarital relations. … Who knew that Utahns were having so much fun with so many vices.)

House Speaker Brad Wilson: “I look forward to extra time to visit my peers in other states and learn how other state legislatures function so we can adopt best practices.” (I am especially intrigued by Nebraska, which does not have a Senate.)

Senate Pres. Stuart Adams: “I appreciate the important dynamics and inevitable friction between the upper and lower body.” (Just a reminder: The Senate is the upper body.)

Medicaid expansion supporters: "There may be some minor issues in the language of the petition, but the Legislature should leave it alone and see if problems arise in the future." (We can never admit in public that the automatic increase for health care providers is a major problem that must be resolved.)

Most lawmakers: “We take air quality seriously, and we took meaningful action this session to clean up Utah’s air.” (Thank goodness there was no major inversion during the session, which saved us from clean air protest rallies.)

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski: “I am outraged at the Inland Port legislation and am filing a lawsuit.” (All right, the good old boys on the Hill gave me a great campaign issue.)

Salt Lake Chamber: “We were successful in calling upon the governor and the Legislature for more time to deliberate the difficult issue of modernizing Utah’s tax code.” (Hopefully, if we say this enough our members will forget we strongly endorsed the bill.)

Sober lawmakers: “Allowing 4.0 beer in convenience stores is a generous compromise.” (We did not want to face a nasty citizen initiative battle on this.)

Beer drinkers: “Utah’s war on beer must end!” (Once I’ve had a few, it doesn’t matter if it’s 3.2, 4.0 or 4.8).

Long-time conservative activist Gayle Ruzicka: “I am grateful for the many experiences and friends gained in the legislative process over many years." (I am enjoying the last laugh at all those who think I’m past my prime. Who else got a multi-page flattering profile in a daily newspaper, won major battles this session, and is still eager for more? See you in 2020.)

All lawmakers: “We were wise to handle revising the medical marijuana initiative in a special session before the regular session.” (That was a piece of cake compared to our experience over the last 45 days.)

Perceptive legislators: “We definitely need a new state flag to represent our changing demographics and diversity.” (This is a great way to distract angry voters from tax and moral issues.)

Gov. Gary Herbert: “I endorsed the House skinny budget because it made sense.” (The Legislature disregards most of our recommendations, but I appreciated the House pushing hard on tax reform.)

Many lawmakers: “We respect ballot initiatives, but just want to ensure that they are appropriately implemented." (These dang things are a terrible nuisance.)

Nitpicking pundits: “The Legislature is just a good old boys and girls club and is clueless to needs of Utahns.” (I know lawmakers make tremendous sacrifices and study tough issues in transportation, tax reform and education. But I'm too lazy to actually research their actions and it is just more fun to attack them with unfair castigations.)

Veteran lobbyists: "We are proud to be part of the important legislative process." (We are like gut bacteria; no one wants to see us, but they know they need us.)

Frank: “This session is an absolute confirmation The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more important priorities and rarely weighs in on most legislative issues.” (The Church appropriately focused their time and effort on the recent visit with Pope Francis. I just hoped the Pontiff listened to their wisdom.)

LaVarr: “The push for comprehensive tax reform was a great effort, even if it fell short and will take a while longer.” (The great thing about the Legislature is that when it’s over, spring is here!)