This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Legislative leadership can be employed in many ways, depending on the style and personality of the person in charge.
The late Becky Lockhart was known to keep a stern hold on Republican caucus positions to ensure a unified front once an issue was publicly debated. Utah's first female House speaker was known to be as fair in allotting floor time to freshmen as to veterans.
The Provo Republican's predecessor, then-Rep. Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, drew criticism from some quarters for holding up bills and votes if the caucus didn't back positions he deemed important.
Now comes new House Speaker Greg Hughes. If the leadership style the Draper Republican demonstrated Tuesday is any indication, he is going to be fun to watch.
Hughes, a former boxer who loves all forms of fight games, hails from Pittsburgh. I've heard him say before that it took him awhile to get used to Utahns' passive-aggressive nature because, in the Steel City, if someone ticked you off, you let him know it.
Hughes recently defended his push for a closed joint caucus with fellow House and Senate Republicans to discuss, in private, GOP positions on Gov. Gary Herbert's Healthy Utah plan before going public with any kind of agreed-upon stance.
Many questioned the move, but he remained unapologetic.
Here's what he did Tuesday:
The House was voting on House Bill 74, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, which clarified the criminal statute governing rape to ensure that if a person was unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, that person was unable to consent to sexual relations.
The issue already caused much embarrassment when Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, questioned if the measure applied to married couples or partners in long-term relationships.
The reaction was swift and expected: Sex without consent is rape, no matter the relationship.
Greene apologized and clarified his comments, noting that he had supported Romero's bill and simply wanted to ensure the legislation's language was clear.
When the floor vote took place on HB74, 74 House members voted for the bill and one member registered a "no" vote. Those votes are displayed on an electronic board at the front of the chamber.
The one "no" vote came from Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, a freshman who took Lockhart's place in District 64.
Glances from around the room quickly darted in Thurston's direction. Some colleagues mentioned to him that a "no" vote on that issue was ill-advised. Thurston, who already made news by proposing a bill to allow gun toters to carry firearms on TRAX and buses, didn't budge.
A funny thing then happened.
Hughes, who as speaker controls the board, did not close the vote. He instead kept it open and glared down at Thurston.
Two minutes went by. Three minutes. Four minutes. Hughes did not look away.
Finally, Thurston blinked.
He changed his vote to "yes," and Romero's bill went to the Senate with, eventually, a unanimous nod from the House.