SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that he isn’t sure yet whether he’ll call lawmakers into a special session this year to address gun violence and school shootings as some lawmakers have suggested.
Herbert said on his monthly televised news conference on KUED-TV that he would not call a special session unless there’s consensus on ideas that are “not just a feel good thing but something that actually makes a difference.”
The Republican governor also spoke about ongoing infighting within Utah’s GOP and what bills he’s considering vetoing.
Highlights of the governor’s news conference:
Herbert said he supports the idea behind one gun control proposal that legislators voted down this session which would have allowed police to temporarily seize the guns of those deemed to be a threat. He said while it’s unclear if he’ll call a special session, school districts can use blocks of money that the state has bookmarked for them in the budget if they want to make changes. The governor noted that he signed a bill earlier this week allowing schools to install barricade locks on classroom doors, and said he’s expecting a report from his education adviser by the end of the month about school safety. He said education officials are looking at how they can control entrances to schools and screen visitors, and it’s possible that Utah schools may start installing metal detectors.
UTAH GOP IN-FIGHTING
Utah’s Republican Party was dealt a blow this week when a federal appeals court ruled against it by upholding a law overhauling how political parties nominate candidates. The law, which Herbert signed in 2014, allows candidates to bypass a political party’s convention and instead compete in a primary election. A legal battle over the law has has divided the state GOP and left the party in heavy debt. The state Republican Party has not yet announced if it will appeal the decision, but Herbert said he thinks the party would continue to lose its case if it appeals. “I’m really disappointed we have this divisiveness,” the governor said. He said the law he signed was a good compromise that kept the nominating conventions but gave candidates another option.
BILLS TO BE SIGNED OR VETOED
Herbert has until Wednesday to sign or veto more than 100 bills that are sitting on his desk, having already signed more than 400. He said he’s still weighing a bill that would restrict the use of non-compete agreements in broadcast journalism. Broadcasters have opposed the bill, which stipulates that TV stations would only be able to use non-compete contracts for employees earning more than $47,500 a year. Herbert said he’s spoken with stakeholders and can see both sides of the argument but he has not decided whether he’ll sign or veto the measure. Herbert said he’s also working on a compromise with Utah and Salt Lake City officials over a contentious bill creating a state panel to oversee a portion of northwest Salt Lake City. The Inland Port Authority would oversee an area where officials want to build a freight hub, but city officials claim the state panel would usurp their authority. Herbert didn’t say if he’d sign or veto the bill but said he expects he’ll end up calling a special session to do deal with the issue.