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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Starting on Tuesday

The NAACP and other respected members of our community have asked that we change the start date of our legislative session so it doesn’t coincide with Martin Luther King Day.

A majority of the legislature will probably vote to honor that request.

Senate President John Valentine, Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, Speaker of the House Greg Curtis, and House Minority Leader Ralph Becker will sponsor a resolution that will make the change. A press release is attached as the first comment, below.

Slavery never figured prominently in Utah's economy or culture (unless you go back to the slave trade involving local tribes and lawless kidnappers along the Old Spanish Trail). The Civil War was not the crucible for Utah's early settlers or indigenous people that it was for our sister states back east. Like everywhere, this state has had to come to terms with issues of injustice and race. But we weren’t ground zero for the civil rights upheaval in the 50s and 60s. This is not landscape with which the state, as a whole, is accustomed to traversing.

Western States in general (and Utah in particular) can be resistant to change. We felt we were honoring Dr. King by publicly discussing his work and legacy on the first day of the legislative session. (See here, here and here.) Others felt differently. We decided to listen.

We hope this will be a step in the right direction.

The resolution will not only honor Dr. King for his key role in the struggle for political recognition of the fact that all men are created equal, but also President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln for their contribution to the same cause.

In practical terms, we’ll start on the Tuesday following Martin Luther King Day and run the Constitutional 45 days, with another mid-session break for President’s Day. Because this resolution proposes to alter the Utah State Constitution, voters will need to approve the change in the next general election.


Blogger The Senate Site said...

February 1, 2007

New Session Calendar to Honor Washington, Lincoln, and King

SALT LAKE CITY - Legislative leadership has endorsed a change in the start date for Utah's annual Legislative Session to the Tuesday following Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

"The community has asked for this and it is probably past time that we honored their request," said John Valentine, President of the Utah Senate. Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich agreed, "I think its appropriate to acknowledge the wishes of the community by starting session a day later."

House Minority Leader Ralph Becker said, "Martin Luther King Day should be honored with great dignity. I appreciate joining the rest of the legislative leadership to propose moving the start of the annual Legislative Session to appropriately recognize Martin Luther King Day as a holiday from our legislative proceedings."

Midway through the session, the legislature will also break for a day to honor Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

House Speaker Greg Curtis said, "We are grateful for the legacy of our forbearers that have gone before us: the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., our esteemed Presidents of this great nation, and other great leaders that have shaped and molded our country. This constitutional amendment will allow Utah to properly honor those that have fought for our freedoms and the liberty of this great nation."

This resolution is sponsored by Senate President John Valentine and Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich. House Speaker Greg Curtis and House Minority Leader Ralph Becker will carry the resolution in their body.

"The NAACP applauds Utah Legislators for working together and listening to the voices of the community who have requested this Constitutional
Amendment," said Jeanetta Williams, President of the Salt Lake Branch of the NAACP. "This announcement marks a historic day in Utah and across the country. It's a wonderful way to begin Black History Month."

Altering the legislative calendar in this way requires a change to the Utah State Constitution. The resolution will direct Lieutenant Governor Herbert to submit a proposed amendment to the voters in the next regular general election.

Currently, the session runs for 45 days, starting on Monday and ending on a Wednesday. Under the new schedule the Utah Legislative Session would start on a Tuesday Morning and end on Friday night. The session would still run for 45 days but would exclude federal holidays.

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2/01/2007 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Tom Grover said...

Isn't it a tradition to start each legislative session in Utah with a debate about whether the Legislature should convene on MLK day?

The debate is almost a ritual, and I just don't think Utah politics would be the same without it!

2/02/2007 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2/02/2007 2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's a great thing that the legislature did. Cheers to them!

2/02/2007 4:35 PM  
Blogger theorris said...

It is about time.

2/02/2007 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2/03/2007 12:24 PM  

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