POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

The slow pace of Utah Senate confirmation for Rep. Joel Ferry

Jul 19, 2022, 1:35 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 10:26 am

Rep joel Ferry, who is on the ballot this election, is pictured...

FILE: Rep. Joel Ferry, R-Brigham City, presents SB31, Water Rights Proofs on Small Amounts of Water, in the House chamber during the 2022 session of the Utah Legislature at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has appointed Rep. Joel Ferry to be the new executive director of the Department of Natural Resources. In his announcement, the governor said “his legislative experience, as well as his foundation as a farmer and rancher, will help shape our vision around natural resources and I’m grateful he’s willing to take on this new challenge.”

The problem is that Mr. Ferry is also Rep. Ferry, and currently represents District 1 in Brigham City. The Utah Constitution forbids his serving in both roles, simultaneously.

Article V of the Utah Constitution

According to Article V, Section 1 of the Utah Constitution, “The powers of the government of the State of Utah shall be divided into three distinct departments, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial; and no person charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any functions appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases herein expressly directed or permitted.”

Attorney Greg Skordas joined KSL at Night to explain whether the governor is violating the constitution by allowing Representative Ferry to serve in the cabinet without requesting his immediate resignation from the legislature.

“At the current time he probably is,” Skordas said. “Rep. Ferry is a great legislator. He’s going to be a great executive director of natural resources, but he can’t do both.”

Rep. Ferry is also running for reelection

There is precedent for legislators being tapped to serve in the executive branch. Longtime Rep. Paul Ray stepped down to run the Utah Department of Human Services in 2021.  Greg Skordas remembered another example: “When a former legislator, I think it was Hall, was appointed to the bench, he resigned immediately.” Skordas was referring to Rep. Craig Hall who Gov. Cox appointed to the 2nd District Court.

Skordas then zeroed in on the real problem. “Ferry is in an awkward position because he’s standing for reelection right now.”

This is the key to the dilemma. The period to replace Rep. Ferry with another Republican candidate on the ballot has already passed. So while Gov. Cox can appoint a Republican to replace him for the rest of the term, the Democrat candidate would run unopposed in the next election if Rep. Ferry stepped down now.

Why the slow pace? Politics.

The Senate has not yet scheduled a hearing on Joel Ferry’s appointment to head Natural Resources, and the governor has not yet sent the letter to the Senate that he is required to send announcing that appointment. He is required to do that within 30 days.

Why the slow pace? Skordas says what they’re trying to do is “stall the appointment in the Senate until after the election. When he’s reelected, which is pretty much a foregone conclusion, then he can resign and (GOP delegates) can appoint someone in his place.”

Related reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

the front of a homeless shelter, budget plan utah...

Eric Cabrera

Salt Lake business leaders show support for governor’s budget plan to help homeless people in Utah

Leaders who approve of the budget plan said they had seen a huge difference in downtown Salt Lake over the past six months.

11 hours ago

nikki haley shown, she will be in utah next week...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Nikki Haley to visit Utah next week ahead of Super Tuesday presidential caucus votes

Nikki Haley plans to hold a rally at the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts on Utah Valley University's campus in Orem on the morning of Feb. 28.

14 hours ago

solar panel shown, solar power in utah is the major focus of a proposed law...

Heather Peterson

Bill focusing on solar power customers in Utah gets favorable recommendation in Senate committee

Right now, Rocky Mountain Power only credits solar power customers in Utah about 5 cents for the power they send back to the grid.

14 hours ago

a woman on her phone...

Lindsay Aerts, KSL TV

Utah Legislature approves candidate signature gathering change

A shift is coming for candidates who have to gather signatures to get on the ballot, an app allowing them to verify a voter's eligibility in real-time.

15 hours ago

Members of the Palestinian civil defense extinguish a fire in a building in the east of Rafah, the ...

Richard Roth and Tara John, CNN

US proposes a ‘temporary ceasefire’ in Gaza in draft UN resolution

The United States has proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas

22 hours ago

Natural Resources...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah Division of Natural Resources wants to combine police agencies

The Utah Division of Natural Resources is seeking to combine its four law enforcements agencies into one unit.

23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

The slow pace of Utah Senate confirmation for Rep. Joel Ferry