Did the Utah legislature break the law for two years?

Posted at 6:45 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 20:45:26-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Senate leaders acknowledged the Utah State Legislature may have been breaking the law for the past two years by not giving the public notice of meetings for a pair of legislative committees.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, announced that in 2014 a law was passed dealing with open meetings and requiring 24 hours notice to the public. The Rules and Conference committees were supposed to be exempted from that, but they weren’t in a bill run by Senate Minority Whip Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City.

Because of that, the legislature may have been breaking the law.

“We didn’t know,” Niederhauser told FOX 13. “We didn’t have that clarification, so this is something that I guess could be interpreted a couple of different ways and came to our legal staff’s attention. It wasn’t the intent of the sponsor.”

The problem was discovered by the legislature’s legal counsel.

A series of bills in the House and Senate were announced on Thursday to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Lawmakers argued that giving 24 hours notice of specific agenda items for the Rules Committee could log-jam the legislature, where bills are considered quickly. However, Mayne said the fix would provide more electronic notification for the public about the committees.