SALT LAKE CITY — Utah state legislative leaders are considering creating rules to reduce the logjam of legislative proposals submitted by lawmakers before the session even starts.
More than 1,000 proposals had already been submitted by late October ahead of the 45-day legislative session that begins in January, breaking a record for the second straight year, The Salt Lake Tribune reports .
Lawmakers typically only pass about 500 bills during each session.
Republican House Majority Whip Francis Gibson called it ridiculous silly that so many bills have been proposed. While Senate President Wayne Niederhauser acknowledged that legislative leaders have been aware of the issue for several years.
Each proposal must first be reviewed by an office of 20 state attorneys who then discuss the proposal with the lawmaker and draft a bill for them.
The current rules give each lawmaker three “priority bills” that state attorneys draft first. The attorneys then work on the other proposals based on the date they were submitted, which can start in May. That leads lawmakers to hurry to get their spots reserved.
“More (legislators are) catching on to how the process works,” Niederhauser said. “They’re more or less gaming the system.”
House Speaker Greg Hughes said they may try giving lawmakers two additional priority bills in hopes they focus on their most important issues rather than overloading attorneys.
Four legislators top the list for submitting proposals in the last two years: Republican Sens. Wayne Harper, Curt Bramble, Todd Weiler and Daniel Thatcher.
Harper leads again this year so far with 18, followed by Bramble, 17, Weiler, 15, and Thatcher, 14.
Last year, Harper led with 26 followed by Bramble, 21, Weiler, 19, and Thatcher, 13.
“When bills are prioritized for drafting based on being opened early, there’s a motivation generally speaking to get a lot of bill files opened early,” said Bramble, from Provo.
Weiler, of Woods Cross, said he doesn’t think it’s necessary to create any new rules since important proposals end up getting more attention anyway.
“This is a solution looking for a problem,” said Weiler. “Is there a problem? Yes. Is it fixing itself right now? Yes.”
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com