Email from Speaker Greg Hughes to Utah House Members regarding no November Special Session to address USBE and SB 54

The following is an email from Speaker Greg Hughes to Utah House Members. 

From: Greg Hughes

Sent: Friday, November 13, 2015 11:08 AM

To: House All Members

Subject: No November Special Session


On November 3rd Governor Herbert issued a press release stating that he “will not convene a nominating committee for the 2016 Utah State Board of Education elections.” The statement also “encourages legislative leaders to continue working together to find a resolution to this important issue.”

It was interesting that the Governor called upon the Legislature to act on this important issue through a press release, when a direct conversation might have been a better way to make the point. Still, we saw the press release as an opportunity to bring final focus to work that had been underway for some time.

Background: It is important to clarify that in Sept. 2014, Judge Waddoups questioned the constitutionality of our vetting and nominating process but never officially ruled in that case. Thus, the process hasn’t been changed and until a new process is created the current law stands.

Also keep in mind that selection committees have been part of every State School Board election since 1991. Though the legislature has amended the statute from time to time, it has remained a good process.

In recent days, a solution was crafted to specifically address the provisions that Judge Waddoups called into question. This technical approach, rather than wholesale change, has majority support of both the House and Senate. Together we asked the Governor to call us into a Special Session in order to resolve Judge Waddoups’ concerns before the coming election cycle.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Governor does not agree with our approach and has decided against calling us into Special Session. Perhaps the Governor’s staff would prefer a State School Board elections bill creating the option to use that time tested solution of Rock-Paper-Scissors.

We also learned yesterday that the technical corrections to SB54 will not be considered in a Special Session. These fixes would have addressed items that we believe are not controversial and could have received the support of all concerned.

Lastly, let me just say that yesterday’s decision (or non-decision) proves an important point: contrary to what some have told the public, regardless of the support or opposition in the House and Senate on any particular issue, only the Governor can call the Legislature into a Special Session and decide what issues will be debated in that Special Session. Who knew?!

I want to truly thank all of you for your hard work and tireless sacrifice. We look forward to seeing you next week.


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