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The TX. 10: Things you don’t know about the Utah Legislature

By Staff | Feb 9, 2020
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Members of the Utah State Senate take their seats before the special session at the Utah State Capital on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, in Salt Lake City.

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The Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.

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Rep. Adam Robertson claps with other representatives after Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant delivered the State of the Judiciary Address as part of a joint session during the first day of the legislative session held at the Utah State Capitol on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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This 2018 photo shows a view of the Utah State Capitol from the north side near the rear entrance of the Senate Building.

The Utah legislative session has just started, bills are moving fast and lips are moving faster! Now is a good time to learn a bit about Utah’s Legislature:

1. The legislative session is short and sweet. It lasts 45 days, starting on the fourth Monday in January.

2. Legislators like to “go for a saunter.” Sometimes during the session, the legislators need a break. Because they’re in session, they have to use parliamentary procedures to request a short break for everyone. The proper term? Taking a saunter.

3. The security personnel for each chamber wear different colored coats. Utah’s House security wears green coats and the Senate security wears gray coats. You won’t see any red coats though!

4. You thought Salt Lake was enough salt for Utah? Think again. The green and gray coats keep saltwater taffy stocked on their desks throughout the session! Enjoy!

5. The government has three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. Each has its place in the Utah State Capitol; the House floors, the governor’s offices and a Supreme Court chamber! But the Supreme Court only uses its chamber once a year. To keep the space, the court must “use it,” so once a year it hears a case in its official chambers — but otherwise you’ll find the justices down the street at the Scott Matheson Courthouse.

6. “Vox populi” – or “voice of the people” — is written above the Speaker of the House’s chair. A good reminder for our representatives.

7. In the House Chambers, there are two doors on opposite ends, but don’t go grabbing just any door! You’re supposed to enter in the south doors and exit from the north doors.

8. The Utah Capitol’s dome is 165 feet tall. Up at the top is a painting of seagulls. Because the dome is so tall, the seagulls had to be painted much larger, with some of them having wingspans of nearly 6 feet!

9. You thought politics was all somber? In Utah, the legislators like to have a little fun — like a running joke to pretend like they’re going to vote “no” on any new lawmakers’ bills.

10. Not many people know, but the world can thank Utah for the television. Inventor Philo T. Farnsworth was born in Utah and lived here for much of his life. He has a statue on the highest floor of the Utah Capitol building.

– Dallin Christensen, Leadership Academy of Utah


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