Utah legislature being called into special session

sealOn Wednesday, July 17th, the Utah legislature will meet for their regular interim session and now, for a special session.

The new investigative committee that was formed on July 3rd requires new legislation to enable it to fulfill its duties. Those changes will be made via 2 bills that will be proposed, discussed and almost certainly passed by wide margins next week. The laws will undoubtedly be signed swiftly into law by Governor Gary Herbert and take effect immediately.

According to an email from Speaker Lockhart to the members of the House, the 2 bills will do a couple of things.

• First, technical changes — specifically ensuring that subpoena powers and offers of immunity work hand-in-hand. There is also a minor word change to ensure we can use special counsel from outside the state if we so choose. Those changes are easily addressed.

• The second set of changes address a more sensitive subject matter: open meetings and records access. The committee needs certain records and open meetings exemptions to properly conduct interviews and gather information. These powers are essentially the same as afforded any investigation into sensitive matters.

The Speaker’s office held close discussions with the Utah Media Coalition and Utah Press Association, as well as longtime open records attorneys Jeff Hunt and Michael O’Brien. They helped to craft the bill in question and are in full agreement with the proposed language used in the bill.

House Majority Leader Brad Dee will carry the bills.

Speaker Lockhart also outlined what House members can expect for a timeline:

*Members of the committee to be announced July 17, the day of the special session.
*The special counsel for the committee should be hired by August 6.
*Once counsel is hired, an RFP will go out for special investigator.

I suspect that AG John Swallow will continue to resist the investigation into allegations of high crimes, misdemeanors and malfeasance on his part, right up until the bitter end.

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