Opinion: Takeaways from the early hours in the Utah people’s house

Jan 17, 2023, 2:00 PM

One of the hosts of Utah's Morning News, Amanda Dickson, describes the first hours of her early shi...

A foggy morning at the Utah State Capitol when KSL NewsRadio brought you the opening day of the 2023 legislative session. (Stone Johnson/KSL NewsRadio)

(Stone Johnson/KSL NewsRadio)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — When I got to the Utah Capitol this morning it was 4:15 AM.

Fog enveloped the dome, and a light rain fell. Utah Highway Patrol troopers opened the door for me and escorted our team to what would be our broadcast booth for the day — the old chamber of the Utah Supreme Court.

KSL NewsRadio’s Amanda Dickson sits in the old chamber of the Utah Supreme Court. (Stone Johnson/KSL NewsRadio)

I couldn’t help myself. After looking at the row of seats I climbed up on the podium and sat down. In one of the justice’s seats.

Someting told me this was the only time in my life I would ever get to do that! I even stood behind the podium where lawyers would argue their cases, imagining what it would be like to face the justices and hopefully remember all of my supporting case citations.

Opening day

Today we were here for a very important purpose on a momentous day — the kickoff of the 2023 Utah Legislative Session.

Lawmakers have 45 days to tackle everything from a $3 billion surplus, a possible tax cut or rebate, funding education, affordable housing and saving the Great Salt Lake, daycare and health care, and even a bill that would ban gender confirmation surgery for minors

Utah's Morning News hosts Tim Hughes and Amanda Dickson speaking with Senate President Stuart Adams (Stone Johnson/KSL NewsRadio) Utah's Morning News hosts Tim Hughes and Amanda Dickson speaking with House Majority Leader Mike Schultz (Stone Johnson/KSL NewsRadio) Utah's Morning News hosts Tim Hughes and Amanda Dickson speaking with House Minority Leader Angela Romero (Stone Johnson/KSL NewsRadio)

My co-host, Tim Hughes, and I talked to Senate President Stuart Adams, Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, House Majority Leader Mike Schultz and House Minority Leader Angela Romero.

One of the topics that came up, again and again, was school choice. There is a bill this year called the “Utah Fits All” bill that would give an $8,000 voucher to parents to use for private school tuition or even to help with homeschooling expenses.

“When teachers are making $60,000 a year to start, I will fully support vouchers,” Gov. Cox said. “You can’t take money that could go to our schools and allow it to go to private schools when you’re not fully funding the education system in our state.”

The People’s House

When I walked into the Capitol this morning, the halls were empty. My boots clicked on the polished floors.

I left a little after 9:00 a.m. when legislators were busy talking on every level. This scene reminded me of the phrase often used to describe capitol buildings — “the people’s house.”

The grandiose art and marble can so easily intimate a visitor, as can the importance and seriousness of what happens in these rooms. But one of my biggest takeaways today was that this is our house.

We are welcome here. This is where the people we elect conduct our business.

We should connect more to this place, these people, and the work they do.

A great place to start is on the Utah Legislature’s website.

Amanda Dickson is the co-host of Utah’s Morning News and A Woman’s View.

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Opinion: Takeaways from the early hours in the Utah people’s house