SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – The 2018 Legislative Session is now underway at the Utah State Capitol.
Opening day is mostly ceremony, but it signals the beginning of a whirlwind journey for state lawmakers over the next month and a half.
It’s also the beginning of the final year for Speaker Greg Hughes as the presiding lawmaker in the House.
“It’s kind of sad in some ways for it to be my last, first day, but I love serving with this body and I know the things we’re talking about, they are going to keep going after I’m out of the building,” said Hughes, (R) Draper.
On the democratic side, it’s also one final push for Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck.
“Trying to really experience every aspect of this session. Conversations that I’m having with my colleagues, points of information that were shared with the Speaker this morning,” said Chavez-Houck, (D) Salt Lake City.
Hughes says he will move full speed ahead through the end of his term.
In his opening day address he encouraged the House to keep the momentum rolling as they tackle tough issues including, the separation of powers, the opioid crisis, Operation Rio Grande and transportation.
He compared the Utah way to the federal government that began the day shutdown.
“I think there is a mighty contrast there between a federal government that can not find consensus and has shutdown, with consequences to the American people, and a legislative branch coming together and resolving itself to tackle very difficult issues, to leave Utah better than we found it,” said Hughes.
Chavez-Houck and her colleagues are vowing to make their mark on that process.
“We try to be the deliberative, but vocal minority when we enter a session, and providing an alternative perspective to things that are moving forward,” she said.
Some of the other big issues we’ll be following include, hate crimes, right to try medical marijuana and the education budget.
More than 1200 bill requests have been filed for this session.