IN FOCUS Discussion: Utah’s freshmen legislators

In Focus

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – For a number of Utah’s freshmen legislators, they’ve had to hit the ground running ever since being appointed in the past year or elected in November to prepare for their first state legislative session in January. Aside from some orientation and mentorship from more seasoned lawmakers, there’s not much to help first-year legislators as they began drafting their first bills, writing their first floors speeches, and sitting in on their first group of committee meetings.

The 45 days in the legislative session can be intense with jammed-packed schedules. Lawmakers typically receive endless requests from constituents, other legislators, and media to meet and talk about the bills they sponsor or could potentially sponsor. When they’re not on the floor, they’re typically in meetings, perhaps spending time reviewing or revising legislation, and just trying to catch up on their e-mails.

Two of the state’s newest legislators, Rep. Nelson Abbott of Orem and Rep. Kera Birkeland of Morgan joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for a panel discussion about what their experience was like with navigating their first year on Capitol Hill, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. They shared what were some things they expected, what surprised them, and what lies ahead as they wrap up this session and prepare for the next.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Rep. Abbott and Rep. Birkeland, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...