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
.) 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.