Utah Capitol 01

Leaders and staff of the Utah Legislature have been complaining in recent years about the number of bills the 104 lawmakers are getting drafted and introduced each session.

The number of bill files opened has dropped this session, down to around 1,315 from 1,364 last year.

But this year’s total is still second-highest ever.

Now there is a new online page that lists the number of bill files each legislator has opened, including any “protected” or secret bills.

This all comes about because of a rule change adopted by the 2018 Legislature, and an attempt to get out in public the names of lawmakers who are carrying a lot of bills, perhaps get some awareness of those big-bill-number officials and get all lawmakers to watch the number of bills they are introducing each 45-day session.

Here is the website, where you can look for yourself which legislators are bill-hogs.

Usually senators – there are only 29 of them – introduce more bills that House members – 75 of them. But not always.

Here is a list of legislators who opened the most bill files for the 2019 session:

  • Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, 31 bill files opened. As is the case with all legislators, McCay may not actually decide not to have all those bills numbered and thrown into the legislative process. But he opened more bill files this session than any other legislator.

And so legislative attorneys started work on 31 bills for McCay – a first-time senator who used to be in the House.

  • Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Bountiful, 27 bill files.
  • Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, 27 bills.
  • Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, 26 bills.
  • Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, 23 bills.
  • Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, 23 bills.
  • Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, 22 bills.
  • Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, 21 bills.
  • Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, 19 bills.
  • Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, 18 bills.
  • Sens. Curt Bramble, R-Provo; Lincoln Filmore, R-South Jordan; and Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, each 17 bill files open.
  • Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, 17 bills opened.

All the other legislators have 16 or fewer bill files open this year.

Sometimes there is a member – usually a Democrat – who doesn’t sponsor any bills in a session.

But not this year, every lawmaker has at least one bill he/she is running.

And you may notice that the above big-bill-number legislators are ALL Republicans.

That’s because it is quite hard for a minority Democrat to carry a large number of bills – since the majority Republicans often look to kill bills sponsored by Democrats.

And Democrats often sponsor politically progressive bills, which the conservative Republicans aren’t going to vote for anyway.

In the past, GOP leaders have talked about trying to limit the number of bills each legislator may sponsor.

But that could be interpreted as restricting freedom of speech.

And, anyway, GOP leaders don’t get to be GOP leaders if they anger members of their own caucus – who elect them as leaders.

So there is only so much that can be done to restrict Republicans (and thus Democrats) in the number of bills they can introduce each session.

Maybe this new online legislative page showing how many bill files each lawmaker opens will help some.