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Davis Journal

Lawmakers ready to hit the ground running as the 2024 Legislative Session begins

Jan 18, 2024 08:58AM ● By Becky Ginos
Speaker of the House Mike Schultz gives his opening speech at the start of the session. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

Speaker of the House Mike Schultz gives his opening speech at the start of the session. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

UTAH STATE CAPITOL—The Capitol was buzzing with activity on Tuesday as the 2024 Legislative Session began. For the next 45 days, lawmakers will consider bills, argue over a few and ultimately pass some that will impact the state. 

Reps. Paul Cutler and Melissa Garff Ballard stand for the Pledge Of Allegiance. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

Both the House and the Senate opened with some fanfare featuring musical numbers and military color guards Posting the Colors. Senate President J. Stuart Adams and Speaker of the House Mike Schultz gave their opening day speeches before floor time began.

“We cannot overlook what an enormous success story our state is,” said Adams, R-District 7, Davis and Morgan counties. “In just over 150 years, we have created the best economy, the most charitable society, the highest upward mobility, the most family-friendly, and the happiest state in the nation. We live in the greatest state in the nation because of the integrity and work ethic of the great people of Utah. We know how to innovate and do it with incredible determination and purpose.”

INSERT AFTERSENATE PRESIDENT J. Stuart Adams shares a laugh during his opening speech. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

Adams said the future and quality of life in Utah will be enabled by four key pillars:

• Energy

• Education

• Water

• Community and Family-friendly culture

He went on to talk about the impact these pillars have on the state and particularly education. “Our students’ and teachers’ successes are an integral part of our state’s success story,” he said. “We are blessed with an abundance of truly passionate, committed and dedicated teaching professionals. We, the legislature and our teachers, are, and always have been, committed to providing an excellent education for the students of Utah – no matter where they reside.”

In the last 10 years, the Legislature has doubled the spending on education, directly increased teacher salaries, and funded all-day kindergarten, educator preparation, school safety, teen centers and proven education programs that improve student outcomes and more, said Adams.  “Thanks to a direct salary increase of $6,000 enacted during the last session, we now have first-year teachers coming straight out of college making about $60,000 in Utah – one of the highest in the West. And we won’t stop there.”

A little boy looks around at the proceedings as he sits on the House floor. Several legislators had their families with them for the big day. Photos by Roger V. Tuttle

During the session, the legislature will prioritize creating an optional program to sustain and reward high-performing teachers, said Adams. “The goal is to identify the best-performing teachers and reward their efforts by increasing their salaries to $100,000. It is important to compensate them for their dedication and improvement of student outcomes.”

The next 45 days will be filled with debate and decision, and with that comes contention,

discouragement, and some frustration, said Schultz, R-District 12 Davis and Weber Counties. “Let’s not give up something we want most for something we want now. Let’s think big, act boldly, and secure a bright future for Utah. Our constituents, our kids, and our grandkids expect and deserve nothing less.”

Utah has the best state overall ranking from the U.S. News and World Report, said Adams. “It is the number one spot for upward mobility and the best economic outlook for the 16th year in a row. We are the best-managed state, the fastest-growing state, with one of the lowest unemployment rates, the happiest state, and we are the most charitable. We have a great legacy to uphold.”