Gavels will strike the sound blocks to commence the new Utah legislative session on Jan. 28 this year. As prescribed by law, the session begins on the fourth Monday and must conclude 45 days later — this year on March 14. Traditionally, during that period more than 1,000 new policies or changes to policies will be proposed and considered. About half or fewer will become law.

Northern Utahns should be pleased that the new Senate president, Stuart Adams, and the new House of Representatives speaker, Brad Wilson, both are residents of Davis County. While they are new to these powerful positions, they are not rookies in the work of the Legislature.

Adams, a Layton resident, was first appointed to the House in 2002 and then to the Senate in 2009 where he served in leadership positions. His colleagues chose him to lead their body this past December. His profession as a businessman and developer has prepared him to understand the importance of fiscal matters. Having held various elected and appointed positions in local government and community organizations dealing with transportation, the military, education and commerce, he is well prepared to address the challenges before the Legislature. The amount of recognition he’s received from his associates also tells us he’s a respected leader.

Wilson, who earned his degree in business at Weber State University, is a Kaysville resident. He was elected to the House in 2010 and has served most recently as its majority leader. In December, his fellow representatives called on him to be their speaker. A businessman and homebuilder, a participant in numerous educational and community leadership organizations, Wilson’s vision for the needs of the state will be invaluable in tackling the big challenges ahead.

“We were elected to office by our constituents in Davis County, but we were elected to the positions of president and speaker by representatives of all Utahns,” Wilson said. “As we work with citizens and our colleagues during this session, we commit to keep in mind that we must recognize the issues and challenges across the state.”

Talent, experience and vision are not traits in these men alone, however. They are surrounded by professionally trained and skilled elected representatives across the state. Examples of such abilities are found in our Northern Utah legislators. Representing our region in the Senate are ranchers, a professor and former Weber State University president, a business owner, attorneys, a public administrator and a pediatric dentist.

In the House of Representatives, we are represented by another diverse group of Northern Utahns. They include ranchers, a university administrator, a law enforcement officer, specialized attorneys, realtors and developers, businessmen, teachers, retired educators and physicians.

There are a total of 104 members of the Utah State Legislature. The 29 senators each represent about 95,000 to 100,000 citizens and the 75 representatives each have about 35,000 to 40,000 constituents. Voters have elected 23 Republicans and six Democrats in the Senate. Fifty-eight Republicans and 17 Democrats hold seats in the House.

To keep the public as informed as possible, the Standard-Examiner publishes a list of our Northern Utah legislators and their contact information on a regular basis.

President Adams notes, “The citizens of Utah have diverse interests, and we expect to gather input from as many sources as possible.”

On the house side, Speaker Wilson reports, “As a legislature, we are sensitive to the many needs and interests of the people we serve. In every decision we make, our goal will be to empower individuals, families and communities, and to solve complex challenges with innovative policy outcomes that position the state for success well into the future.”

According to legislative leadership, this year’s priorities will include education, health care, infrastructure, economic development, air quality and tax reform.

“Our goal is to take a bipartisan approach to these issues and address them in a responsible, productive way,” said Adams.

It is appropriate to wish all of our legislators well and express appreciation for their service and the sacrifices of their families while they serve.

Robert A. Hunter is director of The Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at Weber State University. He may be contacted at rhunter@weber.edu.

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