This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Over the loud protests of Democrats, the Republican supermajority in the Legislature gave final approval Tuesday to a bill that removes the requirement to have at least some Democrats on several dozen state boards and commissions.
The House voted 44-31 to approve Senate amendments to HB11, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature or veto.
Bill sponsor, Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, said he pushed it because the governor's office says it has difficulty finding enough people to fill positions on hundreds of boards, and said eliminating the requirement to find required qualified Democrats on many could help.
He also added that most are technical boards, and whether someone is Democrat or Republican does not matter.
Democrats in both houses complained loudly, but were outvoted.
Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, was even called out of order in the Senate last week after arguing that HB11 removes a long-standing protection on political diversity within the state and further diminishes the voice of Utahns with minority opinions.
"I think the fact that the Outdoor Retailer [shows] are leaving is because there isn't dialogue," Dabakis said. "There is one perspective and one bloc and one view in too many places in state government…. This is bad government and it hurts a lot of people."
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said Dabakis had impugned the integrity of the bill sponsor, and said he was offended, by Dabakis's assertions that the bill was about shoring up GOP power not making the appointment process more effective.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser paused to remind members to keep discussion focused on the specific merits of legislation.