This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The 45-day marathon, also known as the 2016 Utah Legislature, begins Monday. To prepare, we did what we often do: Ask you what lawmakers should do.
During the past week, and continuing into the first days of the session, we will report on the findings of our survey, a collaboration with the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah and conducted by the respected political pollster SurveyUSA. We plan a series of such surveys with Hinckley during this election year.
What we discovered, and have revealed so far, is that Utah voters support legalizing medical marijuana and oppose the state buying every schoolchild a computer for classroom use. We learned that Utahns, despite recent Wall Street woes, are upbeat about the economy, and that a slim majority have received raises in the past year.
Most Utahns want the state out of the liquor retail business, leaving booze to private enterprise. Nearly half of you back the state filing a lawsuit to gain control of federal lands within Utah. And more of you support than oppose spending state funds to expand Medicaid services to low-income Utahns.
Most of you want lawmakers to authorize $25 million in state funds to expand services for the homeless. You give Gov. Gary Herbert a higher approval rating than you do Sen. Mike Lee, and you say both of them are doing better than the Legislature.
In the race for president, Utah Republicans are having a hard time deciding among the crowded field, with Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio all in a statistical tie at the top. Utah Democrats prefer Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
In coming days, we will report how Utahns feel about the GOP-led Legislature's habit of making decisions behind closed doors and on other specific issues, some of them hot-button.
Our reasons for doing this? First, we want lawmakers to hear from you before the debate begins, and votes are cast on hundreds of proposed bills.
Then, at session's end, we will make some comparisons between what our poll says and what lawmakers did. In doing so, we hope to shed light on whether the people's representatives followed the people's will.
In our front-page story Tuesday, 43 percent of Utahns disapprove of the job the Legislature is doing, while 39 percent approve and 18 percent are unsure. The anecdotal reasons for the negative sentiments can be summarized in this quote from one of the respondents: "I don't think the Legislature represents what the people want."
Armed with our poll, lawmakers now have the chance to do what their constituents want them to do. Meanwhile, we'll be watching.
Terry Orme is The Tribune's editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.