Partisanship • Senate restores requirement of minority party member on interstate panel.
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After a week of Democratic griping, Senate Republicans on Monday reversed a move by the House GOP to strip Utah Democrats of representation on an interstate group that seeks to help states develop their energy resources.
The Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee voted 5-1 to amend HB48 by Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, to restore ensuring that at least one Democrat is included in a delegation from the Utah Legislature to the Coalition of Energy Producing States.
Barrus' bill would reauthorize Utah's participation in the group, but he initially removed from it a former requirement that no more than three of the four lawmakers appointed to it by legislative leaders may belong to the same party.
House Democrats attempted to change that back last week, but failed on a party-line vote as they accused the GOP of musing its super-majority status to eliminate Democrats on the panel.
Barrus said he was not trying to hurt Democrats, but was trying to make it easier to find members who had the time and experience to participate. He said past members often missed many meetings because of busy schedules.
Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, told the committee Utah should continue its participation "but we need to do it in a bipartisan way."
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said, "I know how I would feel if the shoe were on the other foot," and encouraged the committee to ensure a Democrat is included. The amended bill also passed on a 5-1 vote and was sent to the full Senate.